World

North Korean media makes rare criticism of ally China

SEOUL: North Korean and Chinese media were at loggerheads yesterday after Pyongyang's official news agency issued a rare and stinging denunciation of its chief ally and diplomatic backer.

Beijing should be grateful to Pyongyang for its protection, said a bylined commentary carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), warning of "grave consequences" if China tests its patience further.

China's Global Times newspaper retorted that the nuclear-armed North was in the grip of "some form of irrational logic" over its weapons programmes.

Chinese state-run media have also called for harsher sanctions against the North in the event of a fresh atomic test, urging Pyongyang to "avoid making mistakes", and spoken of the need for it to abandon its nuclear programmes.

Beijing and Pyongyang have a relationship forged in the blood of the Korean War, and China remains its neighbour's main provider of aid and trade.

But ties have begun to fray in recent years, with China increasingly exasperated by the North's nuclear antics and fearful of a regional crisis.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has yet to visit Beijing, more than five years after taking power.

Still, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang took a conciliatory tone when asked about KCNA's commentary at a press briefing yesterday, saying Beijing has a consistent position of "developing good neighbourly and friendly cooperation" with North Korea.

Mr Geng, however, also said China was "firmly committed" to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula through dialogue and consultation. - AFP

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