China criticized President Bush for calling three nations accused of terrorism "an axis of evil". The Foreign Ministry says such language does not help solve international problems.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan says President Bush's harsh comments about Iran, Iraq and North Korea were undiplomatic and unproductive.

Mr. Kong said at a news conference that "China does not advocate using such language in international relations."

He says "China treats all nations equally in international affairs, and that to do otherwise, risks souring the atmosphere for resolving problems." Mr. Kong says "harsh words are not conducive to world peace and stability."

In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, President Bush called North Korea, Iran, and Iraq an "axis of evil".

The United States has long accused the three countries of supporting international terrorism. Washington says they are a threat to their neighbors because they have been working to develop nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and missiles to deliver them.

Mr. Bush said Washington's goal is to keep governments that sponsor terror from threatening America or its friends.

In his speech, President Bush had gentler words about Russia, India and China, saying the United States is working in unprecedented ways with these nations to achieve peace and prosperity in every region. U.S. relations with those countries have warmed recently because of their cooperation in the United States' war on terrorism.

Mr. Bush's comments came three weeks before he visits China and holds talks with President Jiang Zemin.