|China media vents concerns over N Korea nuclear test
China should exact a "heavy price'' from North Korea if an imminent nuclear test goes ahead, state-run media said Wednesday in their strongest call yet, as analysts say Beijing appears unable to restrain its wayward ally.
The state-run Global Times raised the prospect that the relationship founded on the battlefields of the 1950-53 Korean War, and which Pyongyang has relied on ever since, "might break down'' over the issue, AFP reports.
That would "be of no benefit to Pyongyang'', it said. "North Korea would face an even worse situation, but China could find some ways to compensate for geopolitical losses.''
But analysts and diplomats said that despite its discontent Beijing was unwilling to carry out meaningful action, leaving the media as its only theatre to display its frustrations.
North Korea vowed to conduct its third nuclear test after the UN Security Council condemned its December 12 rocket launch in a resolution that was the product of extensive negotiations with China.
The Global Times -- which is owned by the People's Daily, the official mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party -- has previously urged Beijing to cut off aid if it goes ahead with the blast.
But the threats contrast with Beijing's official position of repeatedly urging calm and restraint, and avoiding punitive measures to prevent regional instability.
China is widely seen as fearing the consequences of a North Korean collapse, which could send an exodus of refugees across the border and potentially lead to a reunified, US-allied Korea on its border.
"If North Korea insists on a third nuclear test despite attempts to dissuade it, it must pay a heavy price,'' said Wednesday's Global Times editorial. "The assistance it will be able to receive from China should be reduced.''
"China is never afraid of Pyongyang,'' it went on. "If Pyongyang gets tough with China, China should strike back hard, even at the cost of deteriorating bilateral relations.
The article appeared in both the English- and Chinese-language editions of the paper.