BEIJING/SEOUL — China on Sunday warned against "troublemaking" on its doorstep, in an apparent rebuke to North Korea.
The North, led by 30-year-old Kim Jong-un, has been issuing vitriolic threats of war against the United States and U.S.-backed South Korea since the United Nations imposed sanctions in response to its third nuclear weapon test in February.
North Korean officials told diplomats late last week to consider leaving Pyongyang because of the tension, but embassies appeared to view the appeal as more rhetoric and staff have stayed put.
North Korea continues to voice aggressive warnings toward the U.S. and South Korea, leaving both countries concerned over what may come next from North Korea. NBC's Peter Alexander reports.
China, North Korea's sole financial and diplomatic backer, has shown growing irritation with Pyongyang's warnings of nuclear war.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, addressing a forum on the southern island of Hainan, did not name North Korea but said no country "should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain".
Stability in Asia, he said, "faces new challenges, as hot spot issues keep emerging and both traditional and non-traditional security threats exist".
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed similar frustration in a statement late on Saturday, relating a telephone conversation with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"We oppose provocative words and actions from any party in the region and do not allow trouble making on China's doorstep," Wang said, according to a ministry statement on its website.
On Sunday, the ministry expressed "grave concern" at rising tension and said China had asked North Korea to "ensure the safety of Chinese diplomats in North Korea, in accordance with the Vienna Convention and international laws and norms".
China's embassy, it said, was "understood" to be operating normally in Pyongyang.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, addressing the Hainan forum, said avoiding conflict on the peninsula was vital. "There, any aggression is a threat to the interests of every country in the region," she said.
British Foreign Minister William Hague said North Korea's nuclear ambitions had to be taken seriously.
Interviewed by Sky News, he said the international response "should also be very clear, very united and calm at all times because it's important not to feed that frenetic rhetoric that we've seen over the last few weeks".
Switzerland's Foreign Ministry offered to mediate, saying it was "always willing to help find a solution, if this is the wish of the parties, such as hosting meetings between them".
Kim, the third member of his dynasty to rule North Korea, is thought to have spent several years in Switzerland being educated under a pseudonym. He took over in December 2011 after the death of his father Kim Jong-il, who confronted South Korea and the United States throughout his 17-year rule.
Additional reporting by Koh Gui Qing in Hainan and Phil Stewart in WashingtonCopyright 2013 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.