Canada and the United States are hosting a two-day meeting in Vancouver to bolster solidarity in the face of Kim Jong-Un's regime. But neither China -- the North's main ally and sole significant trade partner -- nor Russia were invited for the ministerial-level talks, limiting the scope for effective new initiatives.
"The most important relevant parties of the Korean peninsula issue haven't taken part in the meeting so I don't think the meeting is legal or representative," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular briefing.
Lu denounced the "Cold War mentality" of "relevant parties," without naming the United States, which is urging Beijing to cut off fuel oil supplies to Pyongyang to force it to negotiate its own nuclear disarmament.
With China absent from Vancouver, US President Donald Trump spoke with his counterpart Xi Jinping.
According to the White House, the pair expressed hope that a recent resumption in face-to-face talks between North and South Korea "might prompt a change in North Korea's destructive behaviour." But Trump also "committed to sustain the United States-led global campaign of maximum pressure to compel North Korea to commit to denuclearisation."
Trans-Pacific tensions have been running high for months, despite the recent return to direct talks between Kim's regime and Moon Jae-In's South Korea.
Over the weekend, a false alarm in Hawaii warning of an incoming ballistic missile rattled nerves, and earlier this month, Trump and Kim traded saber-rattling bluster.
As the talks got underway, Pyongyang issued its first response to Trump's argument that his nuclear arsenal dwarfs the North's fledgling missile batteries.
The so-called Vancouver Group represents 20 countries that sent troops or support to the UN-backed side in the 1950-53 Korean War.