China and North Korea have apparently fallen out over Beijing's pressure on Pyongyang to abandon plans for another nuclear test. China pressured the North on three occasions late last month, calling in the ambassador and his second-in-command.
Diplomatic sources in Beijing on Wednesday said the Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned North Korean Ambassador Ji Jae-ryong to lodge a strong protest after the North's National Defense Commission issued a statement on Jan. 24 criticizing China.
Two days later, on Jan. 26, shortly after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he "made an important decision that will serve as a guiding principle in defending the country's security and sovereignty," China summoned Ji again to demand Pyongyang refrain from a third nuclear test.
And in late January, the ministry summoned the deputy chief of the North Korean mission, Park Myong-ho.
Diplomatic sources said Ji rebuffed China's demands by complaining that Beijing failed to change the "hostile policy" of the U.S. North Korea has often cited the alleged "hostile policy" as an excuse to pursue its nuclear weapons program.
The envoy also claimed that the nuclear test is part of the North's sovereign right to self-defense and not a matter for Beijing to interfere with, according to diplomatic sources.
The North also rejected China's proposal to dispatch Wu Dawei, the special representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs, to Pyongyang.