Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a joint statement on Monday denounced North Korea's latest nuclear test.
Xi and Putin were attending a summit of the BRICS group of nations in the Chinese city of Xiamen. The nuclear test came at the worst possible time for Xi as it largely overshadowed the much-anticipated prestige event.
The two leaders said they "strongly deplore" the test. Vowing to "appropriately deal with" the North, they "agreed to stick to the goal of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and keep close communication and coordination to deal with the new situation," the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
But other state media like the English-language Global Times defended China against mounting international pressure to deal more sternly with its ally.
The paper said this was no time for "radical measures" like halting crude oil supply to the North.
"The origin of the North Korean nuclear crisis is the long-term animosity between the U.S.-South Korea alliance and North Korea. China has been making serious efforts to solve the conundrum," the paper said in an editorial.
"Washington needs to accept the fact that it does not hold absolute authority over the world. Flexing muscles will not intimidate Pyongyang. Washington needs patience to untie the deadlock."
China's Foreign Ministry summoned a senior North Korean diplomat on Monday to lodge a formal complaint about the nuclear test. Chinese authorities also began inspections of border areas with North Korea for signs of radiation contamination, though an initial probe reportedly found everything normal.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, southeastern China on Monday.