Chinese President Xi Jinping didn’t directly refer to North Korea in biting comments about maintaining stability in Asia.  But it wasn’t too difficult to tell who he was talking about.

"No one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains," he said in his opening speech at the Boao Forum on Hainan Island, also attended by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

China’s growth is dependent on foreign trade, and any destabilization of the region is going to harm that.  And the regime of Kim Jong-Un has offended Beijing with its nuclear belligerence and bellicose threats to plunge the region into war.

But China would also like to maintain the status quo because North Korea provides a buffer between itself the US Forces stationed in South Korea and Japan.

"Rather than undercutting each other's efforts, countries should complement each other and work for joint progress," he said, adding that the world should not become "an arena where gladiators fight each other."

China is currently embroiled in territorial disputes with Japan and the nations lining the South China Sea.

Julia Gillard was more direct.

“There, any aggression is a threat to the interests of every country in the region,” she said, hailing “the growing cooperation of all regional governments to prevent conflict on the Korean Peninsula and to counter North Korean aggression”.