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China paper opposes tougher sanctions over N. Korea's nuke test

A newspaper published by China's ruling Communist Party has expressed its opposition to tougher sanctions against North Korea following its fourth nuclear test, despite calls by South Korea to put enough pressure on Pyongyang to rein in the wayward neighbor.

In an editorial published on Friday, the state-run Global Times newspaper also indicated that China put its top priority on maintaining stability in North Korea, rather than its denuclearizion.

All eyes are on the role of China, which keeps North Korea's moribund economy afloat, after Pyongyang announced on Jan. 6 that it conducted a "successful" test of a hydrogen bomb that marked the isolated regime's fourth nuclear test since 2006.

The latest nuclear test is seen as a diplomatic failure by Chinese President Xi Jinping in trying to rein in the key ally.

While China has said it is "firmly opposed" to the nuclear test, Beijing's leadership has been reluctant to use more leverage over Pyongyang because it could lead to the North's collapse and instability at its border.

The editorial reads that stronger sanctions against North Korea "will not work and might bring new variables."

China's "180-degree turn on North Korea policy may lead to new conflicts in Northeast Asia," the paper warned.

This week, South Korean President Park Geun-hye called on China to take "necessary" action in punishing North Korea for its latest nuclear test with the strongest international sanctions.

Hwang Joon-kook, Seoul's chief envoy on North Korea's nuclear issues, held talks with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong on Thursday.

After meeting with the Chinese officials, Hwang told reporters that China has been "actively reviewing" a draft U.N. resolution against North Korea, but it still "remains to be seen" whether Beijing will put enough pressure on Pyongyang.