Senators call on China to step up pressure on North Korea

April 7, 2013

A trio of senators on Sunday called for China to apply more pressure on North Korea,  which has recently adopted an increasingly hostile posture toward the United States.

"China does hold the key to this problem," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on CBS News's "Face The Nation."

"China can cut off their economy if they want to," McCain said. "Chinese behavior has been very disappointing, whether it be on cyber security, whether it be on confrontation in the South China Sea, or whether their failure to rein in what could be a catastrophic situation."

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who appeared on the same program, said he agreed with McCain. "You know, the Chinese hold a lot of the cards here. They’re by nature cautious, but they're carrying it to an extreme. It’s about time they stepped up to the plate and put a little pressure on this North Korean regime," he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) weighed in on the topic on NBC News's "Meet The Press": "I blame the Chinese more than anybody else," he said. "They're afraid of reunification. They don't want a democratic Korea next to China so they're propping up this crazy regime, and they could determine the fate of North Korea better than anybody on the planet."

China expressed concern Sunday with North Korea, which has made escalating threats against the United States and South Korea in recent days.

Senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer said that President Obama believes North Korea needs to change its ways.

"What he believes is that North Korea needs to stop its actions. We have taken the steps we need to be able to protect our allies, protect the homeland, and with --  the real focus and the onus is on North Korea to do the right thing," Pfeiffer said on ABC News's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."

Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who agreed that China is a key player with regard to North Korea, said that communication with the North Koreans -- if they meet certain conditions -- is important.

"I believe that talking to them is important, and if they were to return to the agreements that they made in 2005, we should be willing to talk to them. Talking is actually a form of trying to solve problems," she said on "Face The Nation."

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan · April 7, 2013