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China denies any political motive for the cancelled Air China flights

Theodore Koumelis - 19 April 2017, 00:05

Chinese representatives said that the flight suspensions were due to lack of interest for the region of Pyongyang, and no political motive was included.

Beijing has denied any political motive behind the cancellation of flights to Pyongyang, amid speculations that the move was intended to pressure North Korea over its missile program.
 
State broadcaster CCTV reported last Friday that Air China had suspended its Beijing-Pyongyang route, leading to speculation the move was intended to pressure the North. The rejection came on Monday three days after the suspension in the wake of escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula involving the United States.
 
But foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang distanced his government from the decision and said it was purely 'market-based'.
 
"It's natural for Air China or other airlines to make such decisions," Mr Lu told a regular press briefing. "There shouldn't be overinterpretation of this issue".
 
A customer service representative for Air China, the only foreign carrier operating a regular commercial flight to North Korea, also said that the flights had been called off due to low demand.
 
Moreover, major travel agencies in China have recently stopped offering tours to North Korea due to lack of financial interest
 
The development comes as Beijing has come under pressure from Washington to do more to rein in North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.
 
Beijing is Pyongyang's only major ally and biggest trade partner. It is being urged by the Trump administration to do more to rein in the North's missile and nuclear weapons programmes.
 
In February China announced it was halting all imports of coal from North Korea - a crucial earner for Pyongyang - for the rest of the year.

 

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