” North Korean ally China on Tuesday called for restraint amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, but again declined to endorse Seoul’s claim that Pyongyang sunk one of its warships.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Beijing shares responsibility for ensuring peace on the Korean peninsula and opposes any destabilizing actions.
“China hopes all parties will stay calm and exercise restraint ... to avoid escalation,” Mr. Jiang told reporters at a regularly scheduled news conference.
Mr. Jiang avoided any direct mention of the South’s claim that an international investigation has proved a North Korean torpedo split apart the navy ship Cheonan, killing 46 sailors.
The March 26 incident has drawn new attention to Beijing’s role as Pyongyang’s main source of economic aid and political support. China, which last month hosted North Korea’s reclusive leader Kim Jong Il on a rare foreign visit, is coming under increasing pressure from the U.S. and South Korea to use its influence with Pyongyang to help resolve the crisis.
Tensions on the peninsula soared on Tuesday as South Korea resumed propaganda broadcasts into the North, while the North’s leader reportedly has ordered troops to ready for combat.
As part of its retaliatory measures, Seoul has also severed most economic links to the North, which has steadfastly denied any role in the ship’s sinking. International investigators concluded last week that a torpedo from a North Korean submarine tore apart the Cheonan in South Korea’s worst military disaster since the 1950—53 Korean War.
The U.S. has strongly supported the South Korean response, which also includes bringing North Korea before the U.N. Security Council where China holds veto power.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton discussed the issue with Chinese officials in Beijing this week, while Beijing’s top nuclear envoy, Wu Dawei, was in South Korea for talks with officials there.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley on Monday said Chinese officials have said they want to see a “careful, scientific, fact—driven analysis of the sinking of the ship.”
“And we think that South Korea, supported by the international community, including the United States, have passed that test,” Mr. Crowley said.