BEIJING (AFP) - China on Sunday (Feb 7) "expressed regret" over North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket, after Pyongyang said it successfully put a satellite into orbit.
China is North Korea's sole major ally and main trading partner, but relations between the two have been strained in recent years by Pyongyang's ongoing nuclear programme.
"With regards to the DPRK's insistence on implementing a launch of missile technology in the face of international opposition, China expresses regret," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying was quoted as saying on the ministry's website.
"The DPRK has the right to the peaceful use of space, but that right is limited by the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions," she added.
Hua called for "all relevant parties to deal with the situation calmly" and for "dialogue and consultations" about the Korean peninsula.
China has been wary of provoking its neighbour by cutting off trade, and analysts say Beijing fears a possible influx of refugees across its border should the North Korean regime collapse.
China expressed "opposition" to North Korea's nuclear test last month.