An editorial published Friday in the English-language edition of the state-run Chinese newspaper Global Times struck a displeased tone over Pyongyang's comments a day earlier.
"China's role and position are clear when discussing the North Korea issue in the U.N. Security Council," the editorial said. "If North Korea engages in further nuclear tests, China will not hesitate to reduce its assistance to North Korea."
That prospect carries weight, since North Korea's impoverished economy relies heavily on China to stay afloat.
Global Times, whose editorial line often but not always reflects official Chinese policy, made it clear, though, that Beijing isn't about to cut Pyongyang loose.
"If the U.S., Japan and South Korea promote extreme U.N. sanctions on North Korea, China will resolutely stop them and force them to amend these draft resolutions," the editorial said.
Global Times noted that Beijing had put "a lot of effort into amendments" to the resolution approved by the Security Council this week.
"It seems that North Korea does not appreciate China's efforts," it said. "It criticized China without explicitly naming it in its statement yesterday."
The newspaper was referring to a passage in the controversial North Korean statement Thursday that said that "big countries, which are obliged to take the lead in building a fair world order, are abandoning without hesitation even elementary principle, under the influence of the U.S. arbitrary and high-handed practices."
The Global Times editorial also suggested that North Korea shouldn't rank too highly among China's priorities.
"China hopes for a stable peninsula, but it's not the end of the world if there's trouble there," it said, referring to the Korean peninsula that comprises North and South Korea. "This should be the baseline of China's position."