China believes imposing further sanctions on North Korea would be "unhelpful". It also emphasised resuming dialogue with the reclusive state amid calls from the US, South Korea and Japan for tougher sanctions following Pyongyang's latest nuclear test.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un defied all previous sanctions and carried out the most powerful nuclear test on 9 September to coincide with the country's national day.
So far China, an ally of the North, has refrained from taking any stand on the issue of further sanctions, but has condemned the latest nuclear test. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said they will work with the United Nations to "come up with a necessary response to the new changes to the situation on the [Korean] peninsula", Reuters reported, from a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
"With all sides focused on the authoritative channel of the Security Council, China opposes unilateral sanctions that are unhelpful to resolving the issue," the minister reportedly told his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida on Wednesday (14 September).
In reply, Kishida reportedly told Wang that the North's nuclear test was unforgivable and posed a grave threat to Japanese security. He also urged China to play its role of a responsible permanent member of the Security Council and gear up for a constructive response to Pyongyang, the news agency reported, citing the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
China's comments reportedly came after Sung Kim, US special envoy for North Korea, told Japanese officials on Sunday (11 September) that Washington may launch unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang. Japan and South Korea have also expressed their support to the measure.
The UN has also threatened North Korea of harsh action if the country does not stop carrying out banned nuclear and missile tests.
However, North Korea is unfazed by the rising pressure from its neighbours and Western countries, with the supreme leader calling US President Barack Obama's threats of tighter sanctions "laughable".