It took three days for China to say anything about North Korea’s attack on South Korean civilians, and when it did, there was no criticism for the North, its traditional ally. Its message from the Foreign Ministry, warning against “any military acts in our exclusive economic zone without permission,” in fact, was directed at the United States, which will begin joint exercises with the South Korean Navy. It added that those could push the Korean Peninsula to “the brink of war.” The Chinese Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, has reached out to both sides and received a call from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, though the details of those conversations have yet to emerge. “The pressing task now is to put the situation under control and prevent a recurrence of similar incidents,” Yang was reported as saying. Meanwhile, most of the 1,600 civilians who lived on the attacked island have fled.