BOAO, China (Reuters) - The world’s major nations are responsible for maintaining global peace, and all countries should remain committed to a road of stable and peaceful development, China’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said on Saturday.
His comments followed media reports this week that North Korea was in the final stages of preparing for another nuclear test. Earlier this month, Pyongyang launched four ballistic missiles in response to joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, which it regards as preparation to war.
“Large countries have the responsibility to maintain global peace, should increase strategic dialogue, increase mutual trust, and respect each other’s core interests and major concerns,” Zhang said at the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia in southern China’s Hainan province.
He did not identify the large countries.
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches since the beginning of 2016. Washington has been pressing Beijing to do more to stop North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes. China has called for a dual-track approach, urging North Korea to suspend its tests and the United States and South Korea to halt military drills, so that both sides can return to talks.
Beijing has also been angered by the U.S. deployment of the THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, missile defence system in South Korea, which it says will both harm China’s own security and do nothing to ease tensions.
“All parties should stick to dialogue to settle disputes and problems in a peaceful manner,” Zhang said, without specifying what disputes and problems.
Zhang’s comments also came ahead of a milestone meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump in the United States next month.
During a recent visit to Beijing by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Xi said China and the United States must strengthen coordination of hot regional issues, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, and protect the broad stability of ties.
Trump has previously threatened a 45 percent tariff on China’s exports and frequently said on the campaign trail that he would label China a currency manipulator. Trump has not followed through on either move yet.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has also complained about China’s excess industrial capacity, unfair subsidies for state-owned enterprises and a lack of access for foreign firms to major sectors of the Chinese economy.
“China remains committed to the strategy of opening up,” Zhang said. “China’s door to the world is open, and it will only be opened wider.”
Reporting by Elias Glenn; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Robert Birsel and Christian Schmollinger