REUTERS - North Korea's state media published a rare criticism of China on Wednesday, saying Chinese state media commentaries calling for tougher sanctions over Pyongyang's nuclear program were undermining relations with Beijing and worsening tensions.
A commentary carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) referred to recent commentaries in China's People's Daily and Global Times newspapers, which it said were "widely known as media speaking for the official stand of the Chinese party and government."
"A string of absurd and reckless remarks are now heard from China every day only to render the present bad situation tenser," it said.
"China had better ponder over the grave consequences to be entailed by its reckless act of chopping down the pillar of the DPRK-China relations," the commentary said, referring to North Korea by the acronym for its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
China is North Korea's neighbor and only major ally and the United States has pressed it to use its influence to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. Diplomats say Washington and Beijing are negotiating a possible stronger U.N. Security Council response - such as new sanctions - to North Korea's repeated ballistic missile launches.
The KCNA commentary charged that the Chinese articles had attempted to shift the blame to Pyongyang for "deteriorated relations" between China and North Korea and U.S. deployment of strategic assets to the region.
It also accused China of "hyping up" damage caused by North Korean nuclear tests to China's three northeastern provinces.
Chinese state media calls for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program were "a wanton violation of the independent and legitimate rights, dignity and supreme interests" of North Korea and constituted "an undisguised threat to an honest-minded neighboring country which has a long history and tradition of friendship," it said.
The KCNA commentary said calls by "some ignorant politicians and media persons" in China for stricter sanctions on North Korea and not ruling out military intervention if it refused to abandon its nuclear program, were "based on big-power chauvinism."
It said North Korea's nuclear program was needed for the "existence and development" of the country and "can never be changed nor shaken."
"The DPRK will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China," the commentary said.
Earlier on Wednesday, China called on all parties in the Korean standoff to stay calm and "stop irritating each other" a day after North Korea said the United States was pushing the region to the brink of nuclear war.
Reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Frances Kerry