Europe

China won't confirm US claim of new pressure on North Korea

  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley hold a trilateral meeting with Japan Foreign Minister Kishida, left, and Korea Foreign Minister Yun, right at the United Nations, Friday, April 28, 2017. (Bryan R. Smith/Pool Photo via AP)

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley hold a trilateral meeting with Japan Foreign Minister Kishida, left, and Korea Foreign Minister Yun, right at the United Nations, Friday, April 28, 2017. (Bryan R. Smith/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a trilateral meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida and Korean Foreign Minister Yun, Friday, April 28, 2017, at the United Nations.  (Bryan R. Smith/Pool Photo via AP)

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a trilateral meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida and Korean Foreign Minister Yun, Friday, April 28, 2017, at the United Nations. (Bryan R. Smith/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Tuesday, April 25, 2017 photo released by the U.S. Navy, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer, left, is underway alongside the Republic of Korea multirole guided-missile destroyer Wang Geon during a bilateral exercise. Wayne E. Meyer was on a scheduled western Pacific deployment with aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelsey L. Adams/U.S. Navy via AP)

    In this Tuesday, April 25, 2017 photo released by the U.S. Navy, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer, left, is underway alongside the Republic of Korea multirole guided-missile destroyer Wang Geon during a bilateral exercise. Wayne E. Meyer was on a scheduled western Pacific deployment with aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelsey L. Adams/U.S. Navy via AP)  (The Associated Press)

China's foreign ministry has refused to confirm or deny U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's assertion that Beijing has threatened to impose unilateral sanctions on North Korea if it conducts further nuclear tests.

Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang repeatedly avoided giving a direct answer when asked about the matter at a daily press briefing.

Tillerson said China told the U.S. it had informed North Korea China would respond to a test by "taking sanctions actions on their own."

China wants North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program, but has opposed unilateral sanctions imposed without a U.N. mandate.

Beijing has come under growing U.S. pressure to use its leverage as North Korea's largest trading partner and main source of food and fuel aid to compel Pyongyang to heed U.N. resolutions.