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July 12, 2006
NYT: China "Honest Broker"

Tomorrow's New York Times reports that China and Russia will offer a proposal for a Security Council resolution that stops short of making economic sanctions a requirement for UN member states. Warren Hoge and Joseph Kahn also manage to squeeze in a little bias at the end of their report that paints China as an "honest broker" for peace.

First, though, the resolution comes with a Chinese pledge to veto Japan's proposal if this new effort fails to win support:

China and Russia introduced a draft resolution on North Korea in the Security Council on Wednesday and asked the Council’s members to consider it in place of a Japanese-sponsored resolution, to which they both have objected, that would have allowed for military enforcement and sanctions.

In offering the new measure, Wang Guangya, the Chinese ambassador, said he had instructions from his government to veto the Japanese resolution if it were put to a vote.

Japan and its resolution’s co-sponsors, Britain, France and the United States, have been putting off a vote this week at the request of China, which said action by the Council would interfere with a Chinese diplomatic mission now in North Korea. ...

The new Chinese-Russian draft resolution covers many of the same demands on North Korea that the Japanese-drafted measure does, but it significantly does so without resorting to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which would allow for military enforcement, and without proposing sanctions against North Korea for noncompliance.

John Bolton welcomed the development, as it showed that Russia and China have finally accepted that a presidential statement would not be acceptable to the rest of the UNSC. However, the failure to include Chapter VII means that North Korea will face no immediate military sanction for firing seven missiles in the direction of Japan, and one possibly aimed at Hawaiian waters. By removing the reference to Chapter VII, it also undermines the argument for sanctions. If firing missiles over another nation's airspace doesn't constitute a threat to the peace, then what exactly qualifies? If sanctions were to be applied, it would then require another new resolution that actually calls on Chapter VII to implement it.

Beijing and Moscow do not want to rein in their unruly client, at least not at the moment. Both of them want to be rid of the responsibility for the six-nation talks, but after complaining about the so-called unilateralism of George Bush regarding Iraq (which nonetheless resulted in a coalition that included dozens of nations), they cannot complain about being kept in the loop now. The two nations want to use the UN to push us into bilateral talks with Kim Jong-Il out of frustration with the process at Turtle Bay.

Meanwhile, the Times just continues to misreport the reasons why multilateral talks have broken down. Hoge and Kahn actually manage to mention Pyongyang's money laundering, but just like their editorial board, cannot bring themselves to connect it to the counterfeiting that generated the money laundering:

China, which has engaged in intensive talks with North Korea in recent days, said sanctions imposed on North Korea last fall by the United States Treasury Department must be lifted before North Korea would resume discussions about its weapons programs. “We hope the U.S. can take measures to help the six-nation talks resume by compromising on the sanctions,” said Liu Jianchao, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman. “We don’t want to see this impasse drag on forever.”

The Treasury Department in October seized the American assets of eight North Korean companies it accused of helping proliferate weapons and imposed sanctions on Banco Delta Asia of Macao, accused of helping to launder North Korean money.

Mr. Hill, speaking to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, reiterated the Bush administration’s position that financial sanctions would not be eased until North Korea stopped its nuclear weapons and long-range missile programs and ended efforts to counterfeit American currency.

Hoge and Kahn do not explain that the Macau bank laundered the proceeds of the counterfeiting industry that Pyongyang uses to undermine the dollar and to gain itself some badly-needed hard currency. They also fail to mention that the North Koreans use terrorist groups and organized crime rings as distribution channels for their phony $100 bills, known to the Secret Service as "supernotes". The NYT's editorial board also failed to mention this in two editorials published within days of each other, blaming the Bush administration for not lifting the banking sanctions.

The two authors never question why China wants us to allow North Korea to continue profiting from its counterfeit ring. However, they do tell readers that China is an "honest broker" trying to bring two recalcitrant sides to the table:

Bush administration officials clearly hoped that the tests, which appeared to come as a surprise to China, would prompt it to take a much tougher approach to North Korea, its Communist ally and neighbor. So far, however, China appears to be sticking to its role as honest broker, hoping to maintain close relations with both parties and pushing them toward direct talks.

Honest broker, eh? North Korea is a client state of China. They're not interested in being an honest broker, nor have they done much brokering at all. They've mostly used Kim as their puppet for leverage to split America from Japan and South Korea. Their plan backfired when Kim shot the missiles off towards Japan, first in 1998 and especially now. China doesn't give a horse's patoot whether Kim gets nukes, but they sure as hell don't want Japan to have them -- or Taiwan, either.

The Times wouldn't know an honest broker if it came into their offices with a nametag. Apparently they can't bring themselves to recognize honest reporting or editorializing, either.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 12, 2006 10:13 PM

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