By Julien Girault, with Hwang Sunghee
China vowed to remain a good neighbour to North Korea on Thursday, despite a rare and stinging critique in Pyongyang's state media of its main diplomatic protector and economic benefactor.
Beijing offered a measured response to a signed commentary carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which lashed out at China and said it should be grateful to Pyongyang for its protection.
The bylined article warned of of "grave consequences" if North Korea's patience is tested further.
China's Global Times newspaper retorted that the nuclear-armed North was in the grip of "some form of irrational logic" over its weapons programmes.
But Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang took a conciliatory tone when asked about KCNA's commentary at a press briefing, saying Beijing has a consistent position of "developing good neighbourly and friendly cooperation" with North Korea.
Geng, however, also said China was "firmly committed" to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula through dialogue and consultation.
Beijing and Pyongyang have a relationship forged in the blood of the Korean War, and the Asian giant remains its wayward neighbour's main provider of aid and trade.
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