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China leans toward South Korea's view of Cheonan warship sinking

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“The Chinese are not the big mates of North Korea that everyone thinks they are,” says Michael Breen, author of two books on Korean issues, but “if they do anything, it will be low key.”

Mr. Breen sees China as going part way to meeting South Korean hopes for support. Although China might not back condemnation or sanctions by the United Nations Security Council, he says, “they might just not block sanctions either.” Rather than exercising the power of veto, he believes, China might simply abstain.

Lee briefed Wen in minute detail on the results of the investigation that included experts from 10 Korean agencies as well as the United States, Australia, Britain, and Sweden, according to the spokesman for the Blue House. The two leaders reviewed documents and other material to substantiate the conclusion of “overwhelming” evidence.

Lee, a one-time top executive in the Hyundai empire, apparently did not mince words as he sought to bring China around to the South Korean view, telling Wen bluntly that “China needs to play an active role in making North Korea admit its wrongdoing.”

Although Wen avoided a commitment, he promised that “China would not patronize anyone” who might have been responsible for the incident, said the Blue House spokesman.

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