The administration of US president George W. Bush, citing new inspections by the Chinese of trucks bound for North Korea, said yesterday it expected China would do its part in enforcing a UN resolution punishing its reclusive ally for its nuclear program.
The US is pressing China for tough action against North Korea ahead of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's trip this week to Asia.
Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, pointed to the fact that Chinese customs inspectors had begun inspecting cargo trucks bound for North Korea in the border city of Dandong. Japan and Australia, meanwhile, announced yesterday that they might take measures beyond the new UN sanctions against North Korea for that country's reported nuclear test.
"We have indications this morning the Chinese are beginning to apply this to their very long land border" with North Korea, Burns said on CBS' The Early Show. "We also have announcements from Japan and Australia. I spoke to both governments this morning. They are both implementing this."
He said there will be "enormous pressure on China to live up to their responsibility" in enforcing UN punishment of its ally, North Korea.
"We are all banking on that," he said.
Rice travels to the region today for a series of talks aimed at easing tensions among countries already on edge about the North's claimed nuclear test.
China, which voted on Saturday for the UN penalties, has balked at cargo inspections to prevent trafficking of certain banned weapons and technology.
"I'm quite certain that China is going to live up to its responsibilities," Rice said on Sunday, adding she was willing to have "conversations" during her trip on how best to enforce the resolution.
The US' UN ambassador portrayed North Korea's detonation last week as a public humiliation for China, which shares a long border with North Korea and is the North's chief ally and supplier of crucial shipments of food and energy aid.
If China were to cut its support, John Bolton said, it "would be powerfully persuasive in Pyongyang," the North's capital.
"They've not yet been willing to do it. I think that China has a heavy responsibility here," he said.
Rice, who joined Bolton in making the rounds of the Sunday talk shows, plans to visit Asian partners this week to consult about the resolution.
"I understand that people are concerned about how it might work so it doesn't enhance tensions in the region, and we're perfectly willing to have those conversations," Rice said.
Bolton said the US' concept of the resolution "is that the overwhelming predominance of the inspections would take place in ports or at land crossings or that sort of thing. But the resolution neither increases nor decreases existing authority to interdict on the high seas."
The US-sponsored resolution demands North Korea eliminate nuclear weapons but rules out military action against the country, as the Russians and Chinese demanded.
After the resolution unanimously passed, North Korea's UN ambassador accused council members of a "gangster-like" action that neglects the nuclear threat posed by the US.
China's UN ambassador, Wang Guangya (