North Korea - A ‘Horse Without Reins’

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North Korea’s third nuclear test Tuesday drew immediate condemnation from around the world, including the United States, Japan and Pyogyang’s closest and most powerful ally, China. In a statement carried by China’s Xinhua news agency, Beijing’s leaders declared, “We strongly urge (North Korea) to abide by (its) promise to denuclearize, and take no further action that will worsen the situation.”

Still, despite China’s verbal toughness, an editorial in the Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily questions just how much Beijing can do to rein in North Korea, a country it describes as a “horse run wild.”

In the past month, the paper notes, Chinese leaders met on three separate occasions – ultimately to no avail -- with North Korean officials, hoping to dissuade the recalcitrant regime from going ahead with the nuclear test, which Pyongyang has said was carried out for security purposes, alluding to a perceived threat from the United States and its allies.

In December, the North conducted a test of a long-range rocket that it said was intended for scientific purposes.

Apart from security concerns, including a stepped-up arms race across East Asia, the editorial also highlights some of the possible environmental fallout as Tuesday’s test was carried out some 60 miles from the Chinese border. Residents, it notes, are fearful of potential water, air and soil contamination as a result of the underground test, which registered between a magnitude 4.7 and 5.2 earthquake.

Still, despite the North’s flouting of concerns from the international community and its allies in Beijing, China’s hands appear to remain tied, the editorial states. As China continues to talk tough, it is becoming increasingly clear the country will do little to follow through.