China’s President Xi Jinping on Sunday said no country “should be allowed to throw a region into chaos” in apparent criticism of ally North Korea amid high tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Mr. Xi said the international community should advocate a “vision of comprehensive security, common security and cooperative security” rather than “an arena where gladiators fight each other”.

And, in what appeared to be veiled criticism of China’s long-time strategic partner, he added, “No one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains.”

The Chinese President was addressing the Boao Forum for Asia, an annual conference in the southern island province of Hainan billed as “China’s Davos”.

His remarks will be seen as an indication of rising Chinese frustration at the North. Beijing, which is Pyongyang’s only ally and biggest source of financial support, has unusually criticised the North’s recent warnings of carrying out strikes against the U.S. and South Korea in retaliation for military drills.

China also lent its backing to recent United Nations Security Council sanctions following a nuclear test conducted by the North, which is, however, viewed by Beijing as a crucial strategic buffer against the U.S. and its allies in the region.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday told United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a telephone conversation Beijing would “not allow troublemaking at the doorsteps of China”.

On Sunday, the Foreign Ministry here said it had asked the North “to ensure the safety of Chinese diplomats in North Korea”, after the government in Pyongyang on Friday told foreign embassies to consider evacuation if tensions escalated. No countries have, as yet, appeared to take the warning seriously, seeing the North’s threats as rhetoric.

In recent days, the North has warned of striking U.S. bases in Guam in the Pacific or in South Korea as retaliation for on-going military drills. South Korean officials have said the North, which has withdrawn from an armistice agreement and disconnected a military hotline with the South, has moved medium-range missiles to its eastern coast.

U.S. puts off test

U.S. officials said on Sunday they had decided to postpone a scheduled test of an intercontinental missile to avoid further escalating tensions. An official was quoted as saying by Reuters that the test of the Minuteman III missile at a base in California would be postponed, describing the decision as “the logical, prudent and responsible course of action to take”.

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