SHANGHAI - China put rare public pressure on ally North Korea over the reclusive state's plan to launch a long-range rocket which is raising tension in the region and could scupper a recent aid deal with the United States.
The announcement of the launch immediately threw into doubt recent hopes that the new young head of the family dynasty ruling North Korea was ready open up more to the international community.
Experts said the planned launch is clearly a ballistic missile test, banned by UN resolutions, and would be in line with North Korea's long practiced diplomacy of using threats to regional security to leverage concessions from the international community, and the United States in particular.
Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun expressed China's "worry" when he met North Korean ambassador Ji Jae Ryong on Friday, the Xinhua news agency said.
"We sincerely hope parties concerned stay calm and exercise restraint and avoid escalation of tension that may lead to a more complicated situation," Xinhua on Saturday quoted Zhang as saying.