China supports further United Nations action in response to North Korea's latest nuclear test but also wants to see renewed efforts to begin dialogue involving all sides, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Thursday.
China hopes North Korea will "see the situation clearly and come to the right judgment and choice," Wang said.
He said the U.N. should take "necessary measures," but added that sanctions and pressure should spur dialogue and negotiation between the sides toward the goal of a peaceful solution on the Korean Peninsula.
"We believe that sanctions and pressure are only half of the key to resolving the nuclear issue. The other half is dialogue and negotiation. Only when the two are put together can it unlock the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula," Wang said.
China is a veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, as well as North Korea's main trading partner and source of food and fuel aid.
Also Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated China's opposition to South Korea's deployment of a U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense System, also known as THAAD, which is intended to protect against North Korean missile attacks. Beijing says the system's powerful radars will be able to monitor flights and missile launches deep inside northeastern China.
Two of the system's launchers are already operational, and the remaining four were added Thursday amid protests by residents living near the site in South Korea.
Geng told reporters that China had complained to the U.S. and South Korea and urged them to "take seriously the security concerns and interests of China and other regional countries."
The U.S. and South Korea should "immediately stop the deployment process and withdraw relevant equipment," Geng said.
China's opposition to the THAAD deployment has sent formerly strong relations with South Korea into a tailspin, cutting deeply into the crucial economic relationship between the two countries.
South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. said its China plant halted operation due to a supply disruption on Tuesday, its second shutdown in China in less than a month.
While China has not discussed military planning for a crisis on the Korean Peninsula with the U.S. or others, its defense ministry reported that the armed forces carried out drills in nearby waters two days after North Korea said it exploded a hydrogen bomb on Sunday.
The ministry said the exercise in the Bohai Gulf was aimed at "boosting the forces expulsion mission capability" and not at any specific nations or targets, according to a statement posted on the ministry's official Sina Weibo microblog account. The ministry said the exercises had been planned well in advance.
China has repeatedly said it will not tolerate an armed conflict on its doorstep and that there can be no military solution to the current tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The Bohai Gulf lies just west of the Yellow Sea, which separates China from the Korean Peninsula.