China defies US sanctions pressure over North Korea
BEIJING (AFP) - China resisted United States-led pressure to bring its ally North Korea to heel for launching a long-range rocket, arguing that any response from the United Nations (UN) should be "prudent" and measured.
The US demanded further action from China - Pyongyang's foremost patron - and US allies pressed for stronger sanctions, after the UN Security Council condemned North Korea for carrying out Wednesday's banned launch.
But foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters that China believes any UN response "should be prudent, appropriate and conducive to peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and avoid the escalation of the situation."
North Korea says it placed a satellite in orbit for peaceful research, but critics say the launch amounted to a banned ballistic missile test that marked a major advance for the communist state's nuclear weapons programme.