Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged North Korea on Wednesday (8 March) to suspend its missile and nuclear activities in exchange for a halt to military exercises carried out by Washington and Seoul.

"To defuse the looming crisis on the (Korean) peninsula, China proposes that as a first step, the DPRK may suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the halt of the large-scale US-ROK exercises," Wang said.

He described the rising tensions in the peninsula as "two accelerating trains, coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way. Are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?"

"This 'suspension for suspension' can help us break out of the security dilemma and bring the parties back to the negotiating table," he added.

On 6 March, Pyongyang launched four ballistic missiles sparking angry responses from South Korea and Japan. The missiles flew 1,000km and landed in the Sea of Japan.

Beijing has been ramping up pressure on Pyongyang to give up its ballistic missile programmes. Last month, China suspended all its coal imports from North Korea for the rest of the year.