BEIJING - An opinion poll conducted by a state propaganda mouthpiece said Monday that 56 percent of China's people blame the United States for the current tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Just nine percent of respondents said North Korea was at fault, according to the telephone poll conducted by the state-run Global Times.
Ten percent of respondents blamed South Korea, it said.
Regional tensions are high after North Korean artillery pummelled a South Korean island last week, killing two civilians and two marines, destroying homes and triggering worldwide condemnation.
It was the first time civilian areas in the South had been shelled since the 1950-53 war.
The Global Times report did not say how many people were polled.
China is North Korea's sole major ally and its media heavily censors reports about North Korean actions, playing up Pyongyang's versions of events to guide public opinion in support of Beijing's pro-North stance.
Experts say Beijing coddles North Korea, at least in public, because it wants to prop up the regime of Kim Jong-Il out of fear that its collapse could spark a refugee influx to China or lead to a US-allied unified Korea.
Just 10 percent of those polled felt Pyongyang had acted provocatively, while 22 percent said it had been "forced to take action." Another 57 percent felt the situation was "too complicated to judge," the newspaper said.
The poll also said 88 percent of people viewed North Korea as either an ally or filling a strategic defense role for China.
China has avoided joining world condemnation of North Korea for either the shelling or Pyongyang's claims that it has a working uranium enrichment facility.
Beijing also refrained from joining world criticism after North Korea was blamed for a torpedo attack on South Korea's Cheonan naval ship in March.