N Korean rocket fired near Chinese airliner

BEIJING - Beijing expressed concern yesterday after North Korea fired a rocket into the path of a Chinese airliner during weapons tests.

Pyongyang has drawn criticism from Seoul and Washington for firing half a dozen short-range missiles off its east coast in recent days, followed on Tuesday by a volley of rockets from multiple launchers.

South Korea said a Chinese airliner with more than 200 passengers on board crossed the trajectory of one of the rockets seven minutes after it passed by.

China is North Korea's key diplomatic protector and the source of much of its trade and aid.

"We attach high importance to the security of national civil airlines," said Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

Countries should take "necessary measures" when carrying out military drills "to ensure the security and safety of civil ships and aircraft", he said.

"Without any doubt, China will verify the relevant situation with the relevant party and express necessary concerns over that," Qin added.