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We can't look to China on North Korea, says ex-Sen. George Mitchell. Here's why.

  • Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell says China's "long-term interests are the exact opposite of ours."
  • "In the short-term, we both want stability. We wish this guy would calm down," Mitchell says.
  • "But in the long term, we want a unified Korea and a democratic regime. And that's the last thing that China wants," he adds.

Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell said Wednesday the U.S. can't expect China to help with North Korea's nuclear weapons threat.

Mitchell, a key mediator in the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland, said the problem with the U.S. and China teaming up is the latter's "long-term interests are the exact opposite of ours."

"In the short-term, we both want stability. We wish this guy would calm down," Mitchell said on CNBC's "Squawk Box," referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "But in the long term, we want a unified Korea and a democratic regime. And that's the last thing that China wants."

Also on "Squawk Box," former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said China believes North Korea's nuclear weapons are a U.S. problem. Persuading China requires a "president-to-president conversation," he added.

Rudd , president of Asia Society Policy Institute, also said North Korea's base interest in testing its nuclear weapons is "regime survival."

"Their calculus is, 'I either do that with a nuke or I do that with an enforceable agreement with two people who sort of like me — the Chinese and the Russians — and a bunch of people who don't,'" he said.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned North Korea's actions and urged the international community to hold fresh talks to try to resolve the North Korean crisis.

After North Korea's test detonation on Sunday of what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb, President Donald Trump tweeted that the U.S. is considering "stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea." The Trump administration urged its allies to use all possible diplomatic measures and impose urgent economic sanctions to prevent a war.

Earlier this week, China's foreign ministry released a statement saying that "sanctions alone are no way out for the North Korea issue."

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