China’s president Xi Jinping did not mention North Korea by name in the wake of the rogue regime’s sixth nuclear test on the weekend, but the foreign ministry has launched “stern representations with the person in charge of the North Korean embassy in China”.
China’s full response to the nuclear test, which it “strongly opposed”, will depend on the forthcoming debate in the United Nations Security Council, the spokesman said.
South Korea’s military carries out a missile drill in response to North Korea’s sixth nuclear test.
Mr Xi said after meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Beijing that China was committed to the goal of North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons.
Some analysts have suggested Kim Jong Un’s sixth nuclear test on Sunday, a powerful hydrogen bomb explosion, and the rapid progress of its missile technology, may force the global community to accept North Korea as a nuclear state but seek to rein in its dangerous behaviour through dialogue.
However, Mr Xi and Mr Putin “resolutely agreed” to the goal of denuclearising the Korean Peninsula, and “properly handling” the new situation, a statement from China’s foreign ministry said.
China has strongly condemned the nuclear test, but gave little indication whether it would agree to cut its oil pipeline to North Korea.
China has previously said any sanctions against North Korea must be agreed through the United Nations Security Council, which was due to meet on Monday.
Asked about Mr Trump’s threat to end trade with any country dealing with North Korea, the foreign ministry spokesman said “it wasn’t fair” for China to have “our interests sanctioned and jeopardised” when China worked so hard to peacefully resolve the North Korean crisis.
Vladimir Putin with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the BRICS Summit Photo: AP
Asked about Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s call for China to do more, he said “for a long time China has been working relentlessly for the settlement of this issue … we keep stressing we can’t rely solely on China”.
In muted coverage of the crisis, Chinese media focussed on reporting assurances from environmental monitors that no radiation leakage had been detected from the underground test in Chinese regions bordering North Korea.
Muted response: Chinese President Xi Jinping Photo: AP
Blanket media coverage of Mr Xi’s speech to the BRICS summit on Monday, attended by Mr Putin, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and the leaders of Brazil, South Africa and Thailand, instead dominated headlines and television screens.
Mr Xi did not refer to North Korea in his speech but said the international community needed to speak with one voice and foster stable international relations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping Photo: AP
Websites were instructed not to allow comments on the issue, or hyping, and the prominent Global Times website appeared to remove a Chinese-language editorial that argued China needed to look after its own environmental protection and security as a priority.
The editorial reflected heightened fear in China of contamination from North Korea’s nuclear tests, and whether North Korea could be trusted when it said there had been no leaks.
The Global Times, which had earlier in the year argued that cutting China’s oil supply to North Korea could be justified, on Monday argued against such a move.
The editorial said tightened sanctions are inevitable, but doubted whether China cutting off oil or closing the border would stop North Korea from further nuclear activity.
Instead, it was likely to spark conflict between China and North Korea. “If so, conflict between China and North Korea will transcend any conflict between the US and North Korea and take centre stage on the Korean Peninsula,” the editorial warned.
The timing of Sunday’s nuclear test, as world leaders arrived in China for the BRICS summit, has been seen as a provocation by Kim Jong un against China.
North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported the success of the hydrogen bomb on its front page, and inside detailed the destructive impact a strong electromagnetic pulse from the bomb can have on telecommunications and power systems.
It quoted scientists as saying if the nuclear explosion is detonated at a height of 30 to 100 kilometres it “severely damages electronic devices, electric machines, electromagnetic systems and breaks down power cables and safety devices”.
This electromagnetic pulse from a high-air nuclear explosion could be “an important hitting scheme”, the report said.
The foreign ministry spokesman said China’s environment agency would continue to monitor for any radiation leaks from the test.
“The Chinese government attaches the highest importance to the safety of its citizens and the environment.”
By Kirsty Needham
sydney Morning Herald