China's state media on Tuesday slammed US President Barack Obama for suggesting Beijing had turned a blind eye to North Korea's actions, calling his remarks "irresponsible and flippant".
At the Group of 20 summit in Canada at the weekend, Obama said China must not show "willful blindness" over Pyongyang's "belligerent behaviour", noting he had spoken bluntly to Chinese President Hu Jintao on the matter.
The English-language Global Times hit back at the US leader, saying he should have taken Beijing's concerns into consideration before "making irresponsible and flippant remarks about China's role in the region".
The newspaper, noting Beijing's role as host of the on-off six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament, said: "It is thus not China that is turning a blind eye to what North Korea has done and has not done."
"Instead, it is the leaders of countries such as the US that are turning a blind eye on purpose to China's efforts," said the commentary in the paper, which is run by the Communist Party's mouthpiece, the People's Daily.
The United States and Seoul have led a push for a UN censure of Pyongyang for the sinking of a South Korean warship in March that killed 46 sailors, but the Security Council has yet to issue a formal condemnation.
China, a close ally of the impoverished North, has been reluctant to endorse a UN condemnation over the sinking until it has assessed the evidence in the incident for itself.
The Global Times acknowledged that China's efforts to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear programme had not all been effective, but said maintaining contact with Pyongyang was vital.
"The US cannot ignore the fact that China remains the most important channel of effective communication in this situation," the paper said.
"Closing the channel would leave the situation deadlocked. That is by no means what the world wants."