BEIJING, March 15 (Yonhap) -- China should take tough action against North Korea over a "recklessly fired missile" that crossed the path of a Chinese airliner during recent military drills, a Hong Kong media outlet said Saturday.
China had expressed "concerns" to North Korea over the March 4 incident in which the North fired missiles from multiple launchers into the East Sea. Minutes after the firing, a China Southern Airlines Co. airplane, en route from Tokyo to the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang with 220 people on board, flew through the same airspace as one of the missiles.
"The near-miss of a Chinese airline by a recklessly fired missile should have elicited a tough response," The South China Morning Post said in an editorial. "China was not alerted, nor were the aircraft's crew aware that the jet was flying along the rocket's trajectory."
"North Korea has no closer ally, but even among nations with firm relations, such an incident would provoke an angry response," the editorial said, criticizing China for expressing "little more than concern that international practice had not been followed."
"The near-miss is a reminder that the North remains as dangerous a threat as ever," it said.
The paper called for China to do more to rein in North Korea.
"China has a measure of leverage, but it cannot by itself force North Korea to change its ways," it said. "Only by China, the U.S. and South Korea working together is there a chance of the North becoming a responsible and accepted member of the international community."
China is North Korea's key ally and economic benefactor, although Beijing's patience with Pyongyang has been wearing thin, particularly since the North's third nuclear test that heightened tensions on the KOrean Penninsula early last year.
<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>