China has responded to United States comments criticising Beijing for not reining in its North Korean ally, saying military threats cannot resolve tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Earlier, Admiral Mike Mullen said China was enabling North Korea's reckless behaviour.
Meanwhile, China's top diplomat has met the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang, amid rising tensions.
State media say they reached a consensus, but gave no details.
The US has been putting pressure on China to intervene after North Korea shelled the island of Yeonpyeong on 23 November, killing four people.
South Korea has threatened to mount air strikes on the North if it carries out further attacks.
The BBC reports a senior team of US diplomats is to visit Beijing next week for further talks about the tensions sparked by the shelling.
China, which supplies food and fuel to North Korea, has so far refused to condemn the attack on Yeonpyeong.
The Korean War ended in a ceasefire in 1953.