McCain Says China Not ‘Behaving’ Responsibly on North Korea

Senator John McCain
Senator John McCain. Photographer: Laura Segall/Getty Images

U.S. Senator John McCain said China’s response to North Korea’s deadly shelling last week shows that the Beijing government isn’t taking on the responsibilities of a world power.

China is not doing enough to restrain its ally North Korea following the Nov. 23 artillery attack on the island of Yeonpyeong that killed four South Koreans, McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said today on CNN’s State of the Union. China is North Korea’s biggest trading partner.

“We have to understand that China is not behaving in a responsible fashion as a world power,” McCain said. “We have to make adjustments to our policies regarding China.”

Until now, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has pushed for stability without ascribing any blame to North Korea for the shelling, which also wounded 20 South Koreans, mostly soldiers. China today called for emergency talks during December among the six countries that have been discussing relations in the region: the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S.

McCain, a Republican from Arizona who lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign to become U.S. president, said on CNN that the six-party talks would be “a fine first step.” McCain then went on to suggest that North Korea’s “long history of confrontation” wouldn’t end until the Communist nation is hit with “significant penalties.”

Graham on China

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who also serves on the armed forces panel, said today on Fox News Sunday the U.S. “should push China hard” to get North Korea to refrain from aggressive actions. Senator Claire McCaskill said on the same show that China’s bid for a resumption of the six-party talks was an “important” development. McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, is also a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Obama, along with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak, has called on China to use its influence on Kim Jong Il’s government to temper North Korean acts of aggression. China, having fought alongside North Korea against U.S.-led United Nations forces during the 1950-53 Korean War, now serves as that country’s main economic and political benefactor.

As a show of force in the wake of the Nov. 23 shelling, the U.S. sent the aircraft carrier USS George Washington to take part in joint military exercises in the waters west of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has warned that the U.S.-South Korea drills, scheduled to last until Dec. 1, could take the region to the “brink of war.”

McCaskill and Graham both voiced support for the naval exercises on Fox News Sunday.

“You go forward with the exercises, you don’t flinch,” Graham, said. “We need to take a very strong stand, as this is brazen and this is belligerent,” McCaskill said of the North Korean shelling.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE