Beijing today delivered an unusual criticism to North Korea over the killing of three Chinese citizens. North Korea is heavily dependent on ally China for financial and food aid.
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The incident could strain relations between the isolated "hermit kingdom" and China, North Korea's strongest ally and aid donor, even as Beijing comes under pressure to take a stronger stance against Pyongyang for its role in the sinking of a South Korean warship on March 26 that killed 46 sailors.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Tuesday that China issued a formal protest over the shooting incident, which occurred near the Chinese border town of Dandong, according to the BBC. The BBC noted that "it is unusual for China to make any public criticism of its neighbor."
Bloomberg reported that the four Chinese citizens were shot inside North Korean territory, close to the border. A Seoul-based group of North Korean defectors called "North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity" first reported the incident on June 4 and said the four Chinese citizens were trying to smuggle copper from North Korea, according to Bloomberg.
The deaths, which North Korea Intellectuals said occurred on the night of June 3, came as North Korea tightened border security, the group said.
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