China warns North Korea about rocket test plans (+video)
North Korea, a longtime Chinese ally, plans to launch a long-range rocket later this month, raising tensions with the US and South Korea.
China expressed concern Sunday over its ally¬†North¬†Korea's¬†plans to launch a long-range rocket in mid-December.
All sides should work for stability and avoid acts that raise tensions, the Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement. It acknowledged¬†North¬†Korea's¬†right to the peaceful use of outer space, but said that had to be harmonized with restrictions including those set by the United Nations Security Council.
"We hope all relevant parties will do that which benefits peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, hope all sides will respond calmly and avoid exacerbating the situation," ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in the statement.
The¬†North¬†Korean launch, set for Dec. 10 to 22, is likely to heighten already strained tensions with Washington and Seoul as South¬†Korea¬†plans to hold a presidential election on Dec. 19 and President Barack Obama prepares to begin his second term.
It would be¬†North¬†Korea's¬†second launch attempt under leader Kim Jong-un, who took power following his father Kim Jong-il's death nearly a year ago. That first launch eight months ago earned¬†North¬†Korea widespread international condemnation, despite ending in an embarrassing misfire.
Some analysts have expressed skepticism that¬†North¬†Korea¬†has corrected whatever caused the first failure. North¬†Korea¬†says the rocket will be mounted with a polar-orbiting Earth observation satellite.
Despite its close ties to¬†North¬†Korea, previous Chinese statements have had little perceptible effect.
China is¬†North¬†Korea's¬†only major political ally and its main source of food and fuel for keeping the¬†North's moribund economy from collapsing. However, Beijing has been highly resistant to using any of its leverage to moderate¬†North¬†Korea's¬†behavior, fearing that could cause an implosion leading to political chaos and a wave of refugees crossing its border.