BEIJING - China on Tuesday urged the world community not to provoke tensions by "politicising" human rights in North Korea, which a UN inquiry has compared to those in Nazi Germany and under Cambodia's Khmer Rouge.
"We oppose politicising the human rights issue or interfering in others' internal affairs on the pretext of the human rights issue," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular briefing.
Hong's comments came after the head of a UN inquiry on human rights in North Korea said the regime had committed crimes as chilling as those of the Nazis, South Africa's apartheid regime or Cambodia's Khmer Rouge and had to be stopped.
Michael Kirby's comments to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva followed a lengthy report last month that documented a range of human rights abuses, including extermination, enslavement and sexual violence.
Some have called for North Korea to be referred the International Criminal Court over human rights.
But Beijing is Pyongyang's key ally and has a veto at the UN Security Council, and would be likely reject any referral of North Korean rights abuse cases to the ICC.
On Monday in Geneva, Chinese representative Chen Chuandong told the council that many of the report's recommendations were "divorced from the realities on the peninsula and are highly politicised".
Hong, the foreign ministry spokesman, described current conditions on the Korean peninsula as "relaxed".
"We believe that under the current circumstances, the international community should make constructive efforts to maintain this momentum," he said.
North Korea on Sunday fired a volley of 25 rockets into the Sea of Japan (East Sea), the latest in a series of launches in recent weeks that have sparked criticism from Seoul and Washington.
South Korea on Monday urged the North to stop what it called "provocative" and potentially dangerous rocket and missile tests.
North Korea's show of force was apparently intended to express anger at the South's continuing joint military exercises with its ally the United States.