China has begun to adopt a more critical stance on North Korea in recent weeks, while being careful not to appear too friendly to Western opponents like the United States.  Instead of serving as a political barrier to progress regarding Kim Jong Un’s regime as they could once be accused of doing, China has begun participating in the international conversation regarding their reclusive ally, agreeing that the ultimate goal should be a denuclearized Korean peninsula, even if they can’t see eye to eye with other nations as to how to go about doing so.

North Korea, however, is never one to allow even the slightest provocation slip by without responding with a tone-deaf threat that would seem to indicate North Korea believes it has some kind of leverage over one of their only remaining international friends.  As was the case earlier this week when China publicly called on both North Korea and the United States to stop “antagonizing” one another.

North Korea responded to China’s “provocation” in their own KCNA, the state-owned Korean Central News Agency.  Because their threats were provoked by an editorial in a Chinese owned media outlet itself, they first clarified that the Global Times newspaper is “widely known as media speaking for the official stand of the Chinese party and government.”

“A string of absurd and reckless remarks are now heard from China every day only to render the present bad situation tenser,” the KCNA editorial said.

“China had better ponder over the grave consequences to be entailed by its reckless act of chopping down the pillar of the DPRK-China relations,” the article continued, referring to North Korea by the acronym for its official state name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The DPRK will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China,” it read after stating that North Korea’s nuclear program was needed for the development of the country and that its pursuit of nuclear weapons “can never be changed nor shaken.”

Unlike North Korea’s aggressive policy on foreign relations, China responded to their statements with the reserved posture of a state torn between international pressures and its rambunctious ally.  Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang issued a statement indicating that China’s positions regarding North Korea, and its nuclear program, have been consistently clear.

“China’s position on developing friendly, good-neighborly relations with North Korea is also consistent and clear,” Geng told reporters before adding that China was “unswervingly devoted to the denuclearization of the peninsula and maintaining peace and security and resolving the issue through talks.”