China on Wednesday said it was not notified of and “firmly” opposes North Korea’s latest nuclear test, with analysts believing the test will severely affect relations between the two countries and escalate geopolitical tensions.
“China is steadfast in its position that the Korean Peninsula should be denuclearized and nuclear proliferation should be prevented to maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying announced at a press briefing on Wednesday.
China will make solemn representations with North Korea, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.
China knew nothing about the test before North Korea announced that it had done so, Hua said when asked if China had been informed ahead of time.
“We strongly urge North Korea to honor its commitment to denuclearize, and to cease any action that may deteriorate the situation,” Hua said.
North Korea on Wednesday said it successfully tested a miniaturized hydrogen nuclear device.
The test, the fourth time the isolated state has detonated a nuclear device, was ordered by its leader Kim Jong-un, and was successfully conducted at 10 am local time.
“The statement shows China’s consistent attitude toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, as well as its discontent over North Korea’s failure to provide China with advance notice,” a Beijing-based professor, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
“Bilateral relations between China and North Korea are experiencing an abnormal phase. The lack of high-level visits and incidents, such as the cancelation of the Moranbong Band’s performance in China, have already cooled relations. Launching the nuclear test without informing China would make things even worse,” he said.
His views were echoed by Cui Zhiying, director of the Korean Peninsula Research Center at Tongji University, who said China may join other countries in discussing the situation soon, as the nuclear test goes against the country’s regional strategy.
North Korea’s nuclear test is expected to have a significant global impact.
“Currently, ties between the Koreas show no signs of recovering. The US is still applying its ’Strategic Patience’ policy, declining North Korea’s demands. That is why North Korea wanted to announce a successful test of a hydrogen bomb at this time,” Jin Qiangyi, director of Asia Research Center, China’s Yanbian University, told the Global Times.
Ren Weidong, an associate research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the frequent military drills conducted by the US, Japan and South Korea around the Korean peninsula have placed great pressure on North Korea.
Since conventional weapons did not adequately deal with the threat, North Korea naturally turned to nuclear weapons, which are the most efficient and effective security guarantee for them, Ren said.
The North Korean nuclear issue has always been at the center of clashes with world powers. It provides the US an excuse to deploy its military power in the Far East, while Japan seizes on it to militarize, Gao Fei, a political scientist at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.
The US said Wednesday it could not confirm North Korea’s claims, but added that the US would respond appropriately to provocations and defend its allies.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that Tokyo will make a “firm response” to North Korea at the UN Security Council.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se met with the US ambassador and the commander of the US military in South Korea to discuss North Korea’s nuclear test, while the South Korean military was placed on alert as it vowed to forge a united stance with the international community to punish North Korea for the test, Yonhap News reported.
The nuclear test may lead to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea, which may provoke China and Russia, experts said.
“It offers the US and its allies an excuse to counterbalance China’s and Russia’s influence in the region,” Gao said.
Russia slammed the test as a “flagrant violation” of international law, while the EU said the test was a “grave violation” of UN resolutions.
India Wednesday also condemned the test and urged North Korea to refrain from actions that affect peace. The UN Security Council is planning to hold an emergency meeting to discuss North Korea’s latest action.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon Wednesday demanded North Korea to cease any nuclear activities and meet its obligations for verifiable denuclearization. He called the test “profoundly destabilizing for regional security.”
Wang Haifeng, Fan Lingzhi, Liu Xin contributed to this story