BEIJING: Amid raging tension on the Korean peninsula, China today asked the US and North Korea to exercise restraint and avoid provoking each other, saying it was "very concerned" over their escalating war of words.
Tensions have dramatically risen on the Korean peninsula after North Korea early this month conducted its biggest nuclear test, which its state-run KCNA news agency described as a hydrogen bomb.
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un have traded increasingly threatening and personal insults as Pyongyang races towards its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the US.
"Indeed, the Chinese side is very concerned about the escalation of the situation in Korean peninsula," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing here.
"We think the parties should refrain from escalating words and deeds to avoid adding fuel to the fire. Parties should not provoke each other, exercise restraint and do not vent their emotions but find way out for this issue," he said.
A way out can be found when the parties stop the provocative statements, he added.
He was reacting to statements by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho at the UN that firing rockets at the US has become inevitable.
Trump responded with a warning, saying if North Korean foreign minister was echoing thoughts of his leader Kim in his speech at the UN, "they won't be around much longer."
"We think the situation remain highly complex. The pressing concern is to fully implement all the UNSC resolutions concerning Korean Peninsula including the latest one," Lu said.
His comments came as experts called on China to workout contingency plans, either on its own or with Washington and Seoul in case the crisis on the Korean peninsula escalates into a conflict.
In the eventuality of a conflict, China has to grapple with North Korea's nuclear arsenal, an influx of refugees, restoration of social order, and post-crisis political arrangements on the peninsula, according to Peking University professor Jia Qingguo.
"So far Beijing has resisted the idea for fear of upsetting and alienating Pyongyang. But, given recent developments, Beijing may have no better choice than to start talking with Washington and Seoul. When war becomes a real possibility, China must be prepared," Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted him as saying.
He said that if the regime of Kim falls, most likely as a result of a US military strike, either China or the US should be ready to manage North Korea’s nuclear facilities to prevent the spread of the weapons, he said.
China has put an immediate ban on imports of North Korean textiles and a tighter cap on oil supplies from next year as part of efforts to implement UN sanctions.