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China Rebuffs Western Criticism Over North Korea


China is rejecting Western criticism that it is not doing enough to condemn North Korea over the sinking of a South Korean navel vessel.

China rebuked U.S. President Barack Obama's claim that it was willfully blind to the risks posed by North Korea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Beijing felt the dangers of a divided Korean peninsula more acutely than Washington and other western powers.

President Obama criticized China over the weekend at the G20 Summit in Canada for failing to take a tough stance toward Pyongyang.

He claimed the Chinese had failed to condemn its close ally North Korea over the March sinking of a South Korean naval ship, the Cheonan, in which 46 sailors were killed. Mr. Obama said he hoped Chinese President Hu Jintao would recognize that North Korea crossed a line in the sinking of the ship.

Spokesman Qin Gang said China has a deeper understanding of what he described as the fragile situation on the Korean Peninsula.

"China is a close neighbor of the Korean Peninsula and over this issue, our feelings must be completely different to those countries far away from this region. We have more direct and more serious concerns over this."

Qin said conflict on the Korean peninsula would suit neither side. He said China's position was what he described as beyond reproach.

North Korea depends on Beijing to prop up its struggling economy through aid and trade.

It has been widely reported that Beijing fears any conflict or collapse of the Pyongyang government would result in a flood of refugees across its boarder.

An international investigation found that a North Korea submarine fired the torpedo that sank the Cheonan. Pyongyang denies involvement.

President Obama is leading the charge for Pyongyang to be punished for the sinking.

It was reported he had a frank exchange about the issues with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the G20 Summit in Canada.

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