China on Wednesday condemned North Korea for carrying out its first hydrogen bomb explosion, saying it had no clue that its close ally had plans to test its fourth nuclear device within 10 years.
China is North Korea’s official ally and chief economic aid-giver, but relations are said to have been strained over Pyongyang’s nuclear policy. Beijing is also the sponsor of the stalled six-party talks process that includes South Korea, the US, Russia and Japan and is aimed at defusing the situation in the Korean Peninsula.
“China is steadfast in its position that the Korean Peninsula should be denuclearised and nuclear proliferation should be prevented to maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing.
Till late evening, there was no official confirmation that Beijing had summoned the North Korean ambassador to express its displeasure though Hua had earlier said the diplomat would be called in.
China knew nothing about the test before North Korea made an announcement, Hua said when asked if Beijing had been informed ahead of time.
Beijing will launch its “solemn representations” to the diplomat over the nuclear test, the fourth since 2006.
“We strongly urge the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) to honour its commitment to denuclearisation, and to cease any action that may deteriorate the situation,” Hua said.
A statement from the foreign ministry said peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia meet the common interests of all concerned.
Hua added that China’s environmental protection ministry was evaluating the impact of the test. It was “analysing the radiation data collected along the border and will take all necessary measures to protect Chinese people’s lives and property safety”, Hua was quoted as saying by official news agency Xinhua.
“The radiation level is normal so far,” she said.
Asked if China was able to confirm it was a hydrogen bomb, Hua said, “...experts are stepping up analyses.”
A Xinhua edit said: “Turning Northeast Asia into a keg of powder benefits none in the neighbourhood, even the DPRK itself, which has pledged to promote economic development. On the other hand, the DPRK’s defiance was deeply rooted in its strong sense of insecurity after years of hostility with the US, whose pivot to Asia appears much like a show of muscles,”