China’s U.N. ambassador said Monday that North Korea is suffering “negatively” from the coronavirus and called for greater flexibility from the United States and other countries on lifting sanctions against the country.
Zhang Jun told a news conference a draft resolution proposed by Russia and China in December that would terminate sanctions on North Korean exports such as textiles, seafood and statues is still on the table — and “we do hope that all parties should give a second thought on this issue.”
He spoke following North Korea’s firing of two presumed short-range ballistic missiles into its eastern sea earlier Monday, according to South Korean officials, resuming weapons launches after a months-long hiatus that may have been forced by the coronavirus crisis in Asia.
Zhang said U.N. sanctions are having “a lot of humanitarian impact on ordinary people” in North Korea, “so we should do whatever we can to lessen, to diminish the negative impact on that,” which is why Russia and China have called for the lifting of some sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country’s official name.
“Especially nowadays, you know many countries are also being affected negatively by COVID-19 (virus) including DPRK,” the Chinese ambassador said. “So we do think we should take all the things into consideration in finding a comprehensive solution to the issue relating to DPRK.”
Asked how the DPRK was being affected by the virus, Zhang said, “We know that they are also attaching great importance, and taking preventive methods, and they are also doing whatever they can in fighting this virus.” But being in New York, he said, he didn’t have sufficient information on the exact situation in the DPRK.