US President Donald Trump says North Korea showed “great disrespect” to its major ally China by “shooting off yet another ballistic missile”.
Early on Monday morning, North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile that flew for six minutes until it crashed into the Sea of Japan.
The test sparked an international chorus of condemnation, and on Monday night Mr Trump took to Twitter to portray the test as an affront to China.
“North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbour, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile … but China is trying hard!” Mr Trump wrote.
Mr Trump has in the past commended China for its efforts to rein in the North Korean nuclear weapons and missile testing programme.
China condemned the latest test, reiterating that UN Security Council resolutions had “clear rules” about North Korean missile activities and urging Pyongyang not to contravene them.
“The situation on the Korean peninsula is complex and sensitive,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“And we hope all relevant sides maintain calm and exercise restraint, ease the tense situation as soon as possible and put the issue back onto the correct track of peaceful dialogue.”
North Korea has increased its test-firing of ballistic missiles over recent months as it seeks to build nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the US mainland.
It is still thought to be several years away from this goal, but each new test puts it closer to success.
The North’s nuclear and missile programs are perhaps the biggest foreign policy challenges to the new leaders in allies Washington and Seoul.
Besides its regular ballistic missile test-launches, the North carried out two nuclear tests last year — in January and September.