Chinese media warn N. Korea against nuke test

  • As South Sudan seeks new partners on oil blocks

A ruling Chinese Communist Party newspaper is warning North Korea against conducting another nuclear test, saying that would likely propel events past the “point of no return.”

In an editorial Tuesday, the Global Times says the previous day’s phone conversation between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping of China showed the two countries were in close communication over the tensions.

It says China hopes for a peaceful outcome, but that Beijing has “very limited influence on the entire situation.”

It says: “The game of chicken between Washington and Pyongyang has come to a breaking point.” The paper is known for its often stridently nationalistic views.

It says if North Korea carries out a sixth nuclear test as expected, “it is more likely than ever that the situation will cross the point of no return. All stakeholders will bear the consequences, with Pyongyang sure to suffer the greatest losses.”

As a traditional ally and North Korea’s chief source of trade, food and fuel aid, China has come under intense pressure to use its influence to dissuade Pyongyang from additional nuclear tests and missile launches.

However, Beijing is intensely wary of any measures that might cause the collapse of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s hard-line communist regime, fearing that could lead to a wave of refugees and a Pyongyang government beholden to Washington and Seoul.

In the meantime, South Sudan said that Blocks B1 and B2 were open for direct negotiation after talks with Total, Tullow Oil and the Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company broke down over “irreconcilable differences’’.

South Sudan’s Minister of Petroleum, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, said in Cape Town that the country had decided to seek for new partners.

“We have decided … to open opportunities to other potential investors,’’ the minister of petroleum said in a statement.

Blocks B1 and B2 were once part of the 120,000 square kilometre area known as Block B, which was divided into three licences in 2012.

It is thought to be rich in hydrocarbons, although very little drilling has been done there.

Land-locked South Sudan, which split from Sudan in 2011 after decades of conflict, has been mired in civil war since President Salva Kiir sacked former vice president Riek Machar in 2013.

The unrest threatens the plans of the world’s youngest country to more than double crude production to 290,000 barrels per day in the 2017/2018 fiscal year.

The main oil firms involved in South Sudan, which produced about 245,000 bpd until fighting flared at the end of 2013, are China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), Malaysia’s state-run oil and gas firm Petronas and India’s ONGC Videsh.

Additional report from ABC