China should extract a "heavy price" from North Korea if it carries out a planned nuclear test, the Chinese state-run media has said.
Beijing, which has stressed calm and restraint as its unpredictable neighbour prepares to conduct its third nuclear test, has tended to avoid punitive measures against North Korea, partly for fear of provoking regional instability, reports the Herald Sun.
It said that the assistance North Korea will be able to receive from China should be reduced. It further said that China is never afraid of Pyongyang, and if Pyongyang gets tough with China, China should strike back hard, even at the cost of deteriorating bilateral relations, an editorial in the Global Post said.
It said that Beijing was willing to maintain the Sino-North Korean friendship, adding that Pyongyang should do the same.
Last month, Beijing's foreign ministry distanced itself from a similar Global Times editorial that threatened a cut-off of assistance if the test went ahead, calling the claim "only the opinion of the media".
North Korea vowed to conduct the test after the UN Security Council condemned its December 12 rocket launch in a resolution that was the product of extensive negotiations with China.
Beijing is seen as fearing the consequences of a North Korean collapse, which could send an exodus of refugees across the border and potentially lead to a reunified, US-allied Korea on its border.
China has acted as Pyongyang's main benefactor since the 1950-53 Korean War, providing vital diplomatic support and economic ties to one of the world's most isolated regimes. (ANI)