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China rebuke 'boiling point' with N. Korea

| Sunday, April 7, 2013, 7:12 p.m.
Visitors salute as they pose for their souvenir photos in front of a wire fence covered with ribbons carrying messages visitors left to make their wishes for the reunification of the two Koreas, at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, north of Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, April 7, 2013. A top South Korean national security official said Sunday that North Korea may be setting the stage for a missile test or another provocative act with its warning that it soon will be unable to guarantee diplomats' safety in Pyongyang. But he added that the North's clearest objective is to extract concessions from Washington and Seoul. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

BEIJING — China warned against “troublemaking” on its doorstep, in an apparent admonishment to North Korea, and the United States said it was postponing a missile test to help calm high tension on the divided Korean peninsula.

But in the midst of what some described as an unprecedented ratcheting up of rhetoric from Beijing, China began running into criticism from influential political voices in Washington who blamed North Korea's closest ally for not doing enough to avert the danger of conflagration.

The North, led by 30-year-old Kim Jong Un, has been issuing vitriolic threats of war against the United States and U.S.-backed South Korea since the United Nations imposed sanctions in response to its third nuclear weapon test in February.

Pyongyang's anger appears heightened by U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises. But most analysts say it has no intention of starting a conflict that would bring its destruction and instead is out to wring concessions from a nervous international community.

The North told diplomats late last week to consider leaving Pyongyang because of the tension, but embassies appeared to view the appeal as more rhetoric and staff have stayed put.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, addressing a forum on the southern island of Hainan, did not name North Korea but said no country “should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman said Xi's comments were unprecedented for the North Korea crises that have flared periodically in recent history.

“It suggests to me, as I've watched the ratcheting up of frustration among Chinese leaders over the last many years, that they've probably hit the 212-degree boiling point as it relates to North Korea,” he said.

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