China said Friday it opposes "blindly imposing sanctions" on North Korea, after Beijing abstained during a UN Security Council vote in which Russia blocked the renewal of a panel of UN experts monitoring sanctions-busting activity by Pyongyang.

"The current situation in the (Korean) Peninsula remains tense, and blindly imposing sanctions cannot solve the issue," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said.

"A political solution is the only way," he said, when asked why Beijing abstained during the vote.

"We hope that the UN Security Council and all relevant parties can make constructive efforts to achieve this goal," Lin added.

"Open showdown at the UN Security Council is not conducive to its authority."

Moscow's veto at the Security Council does not remove the sanctions on North Korea, but spells the end of the group monitoring their implementation -- and a myriad alleged violations.

The panel's mandate expires at the end of April.

North Korea has been under mounting sanctions since 2006, put in place by the UN Security Council in response to its nuclear program.

Since 2019, Russia and China have tried to persuade the Security Council to ease the sanctions, which had no expiration date.

Beijing is North Korea's biggest economic benefactor and a traditional ally, and leader Kim Jong Un has sought to shore up his country's relationship with China while intensifying his aggressive rhetoric toward the South.

Kim said in January that Pyongyang and Beijing had designated 2024 as the "year of DPRK-China friendship," using the acronym of the North's official name.