China has warned the US and North Korea not to “play with fire” amid escalating tensions between the two countries.
State media urged for careful dialogue to defuse the nuclear stand-off after Donald Trump vowed to unleash “fire and fury” in response to threats from Pyongyang.
North Korea dismissed the US President’s warning as “a load of nonsense” and outlined plans to launch four missiles towards the US territory of Guam as the war of words intensified.
The state-run China Daily newspaper said “the threatening rhetoric from Pyongyang cannot be taken lightly” after North Korea’s nuclear missile technology advanced faster than anticipated despite international scrutiny and strict sanctions.
Its editorial described the “latest round of sabre-rattling between Pyongyang and Washington” as “particularly ominous”, adding: “This mutual finger-pointing has pulled both into a spiral of escalating distrust and hostility, which is the biggest obstacle to resolving the crisis.”
An editorial in the Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency also criticised the hostile rhetoric, warning there was “no room for any related party to play with fire”.
It said “the bottom line on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is that there must not be any armed conflict,” adding “an uncontrolled situation and even perhaps any accidental spark could trigger a conflict and prove to be a disaster”.
The piece called for North Korea to suspend its ballistic missile and nuclear programmes and said US and South Korea should halt joint military drills in a bid to enable talks between Pyongyang and Washington.
China, North Korea’s largest trading partner and Communist ally, has previously been criticised for failing to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear programme or aggressive rhetoric.
Last month Mr Trump claimed “China could easily solve this problem”, adding “they do nothing for us with North Korea, just talk”.
His condemnation contradicted a June tweet in which he said: “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!”
US-North Korea relations reached a nadir after reports Pyongyang had produced a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
In a press conference at his New Jersey property on Tuesday, Mr Trump warned that North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un “best not make any more threats to the US”.
He added: “They will be met with fire and fury and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen before.”
Culled from www.independent.co.uk