China Protests US-South Korea Military Exercises
Meanwhile, North Korea blames South for civilian deaths
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2010 7:20 AM CST
In this photo taken on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010, USS George Washington aircraft carrier leaves the US naval base for the US-South Korea joint military exercises, in Yokosuka, west of Tokyo, Japan.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

(Newser) – As tomorrow’s US-South Korea military exercises loom, China lodged its first official protest yesterday—but left the door open for the exercises to continue. Beijing is balancing its support of North Korea with its fears, expressed only privately, that the country is going too far, the Wall Street Journal reports. Thus, China’s statement suggests that it will only take further action if the exercises infringe on China’s “exclusive economic zone.” Other parts of the Yellow Sea fall outside the zone and near South Korea.

China’s stance has softened since July, when officials opposed military exercises anywhere in the Yellow Sea. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton added her voice to the throng asking China to intervene with North Korea and send a message that its “behavior is unacceptable,” says a spokesperson. Meanwhile, North Korea blamed South Korea for the civilian deaths that occurred in Tuesday’s attacks. The state news agency accused South Korea of “creating a 'human shield' by deploying civilians around artillery positions,” the AP reports.