China's Global Times tabloid warns against cutting off N.Korea oil supply

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Global Times, an influential tabloid, warned against any move to cut off North Korea’s oil supply or shut the border in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear test on Sunday.

In a widely cited editorial in April, the Global Times had raised the prospect of curbing oil supplies to North Korea, saying Chinese society would approve of such a measure if the North engaged in further provocative behavior.

On Sunday, the Global Times said more stringent United Nations Security Council sanctions were “inevitable” after Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, but urged restraint.

“Despite the anger of the Chinese public toward North Korea’s new nuclear test, we should avoid resorting to rash and extreme means by imposing a full embargo on North Korea,” it said in an editorial.

The tabloid is run by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, although its stance does not necessarily equate with Chinese government policy.

“If China completely cuts off the supply of oil to North Korea or even closes the China-North Korea border, it is uncertain whether we can deter Pyongyang from conducting further nuclear tests and missile launches. However, confrontation between the two is likely to occur,” it said.

“If so, the conflict between China and North Korea will transcend any conflict between the US and North Korea, and take center stage on the Korean Peninsula. Then Washington and Seoul can boldly shift the responsibility of the North Korean nuclear issue to China, which does not fit China’s national interests.”

North Korea gets the bulk of its oil from China, its main ally and trading partner, and a lesser amount from Russia.

Reporting by Tony Munroe; editing by Ralph Boulton