Beijing: Ties between strategic allies China and North Korea continue to show signs of strains, with the state-run media here on Sunday indicating that Beijing was joining US and other world powers in not recognising the reclusive country`s move to declare itself a nuclear state.
Though there is no official announcement, China seems to be striking a firm stand against North Korea going nuclear as the official `Global Times` came out with a stern editorial stating that "China must not let North Korea go nuclear."
North Korea recently set off a fresh controversy proclaiming itself a nuclear state in its amended Constitution. US and South Korea have dismissed the claim, saying they would not recognise Pyongyang as a nuclear power.
North Korea, which for long remained a close ally of China, seems to be asserting itself in recent times as it geared up to conduct a nuclear test much against the advise of China and also detained 29 Chinese fishermen recently. It took quite an effort on part of Beijing to get them released.
The fishermen complained that they were picked while fishing in Chinese waters and treated badly by their North Korean copters.
"It is necessary for China to criticise North Korea`s latest move and oppose its intention to legalise its nuclear status," the editorial said.
"China needs to make efforts to deter North Korea from possessing nuclear capabilities, or at least openly oppose North Korea`s move to attain them. The historical friendship between the two should facilitate their frank communication, rather than be a historical or ideological burden restraining China`s expression of its stance," it said.
The reason why China should oppose it was that "if North Korea`s possession of nuclear capabilities becomes `legalised`, Japan and South Korea will inevitably want to have nuclear capabilities too," the daily said.
"A chain reaction may then take place - Taiwan may also demand the right to nuclear arms. This will lead to the most serious crisis in China`s neighbouring regions," it said.
Some analysts here say that there is a lingering suspicion in Beijing over North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons as the reclusive state is increasingly becoming unpredictable even for the Chinese.
"It is not in China`s interests to be held hostage by North Korea`s radical moves. Beijing should retain the freedom to clearly express its stance on issues of principle," the editorial said. "North Korea, which frequently deviates from this track, should return to the basic consensus to maintain good ties."
At the moment, "the most urgent thing is to prevent North Korea from conducting a third nuclear test, the consequences of which will be unimaginable for Northeast Asia. Besides trying to persuade North Korea, China should publicly voice its opposition at once," the editorial said.