Chinese state-run daily Global Times on Thursday warned North Korea that China would not come to its aid if it launched an attack on the United States. It is in the strategic interest of all stakeholders of the Korean peninsula to avoid conflict or try to be “the absolute dominator of the region”, the daily said.

“China should make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral,” an editorial in the daily said. “[However] if the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime, and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

The editorial also said that Beijing was unable to persuade either the United States or North Korea to back down from the conflict. “It [China] needs to make clear its stance to all sides and make them understand that when their actions jeopardise China’s interests, Beijing will respond with a firm hand.”

The editorial called the rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang “a reckless game” and warned that it may lead to “miscalculations and a strategic war”. The Global Times said that while both the United States and North Korea are competing to escalate tensions, neither country wants to take the initiative to launch an attack, as it would not help their strategic interests.