Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui said a nuclear test carried out by North Korea is “not conducive to the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula”.
Zhang made the remarks in a meeting on Saturday with North Korea’s ambassador to China, Ji Jae-ryong. Zhang said it was China’s “firm and consistent” stance to realise denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula, maintain regional peace and stability and resolve problems through dialogue and consultation.
North Korea’s continuing nuclear-weapons development and nuclear tests ran counter to the expectations of the international community, escalated tensions on the peninsula and were not conducive to peace and stability there, he was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
China had earlier called on North Korea to refrain from actions that might heighten tensions, and to move back in the direction of denuclearisation.
North Korean state-run television reported early on Friday that the country had exploded a nuclear warhead in a test. It was Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test and followed the previous one by eight months.
China’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Friday expressing firm opposition to the test.
Observers said it would put China at a disadvantage in its calls for South Korea not to deploy the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD).
Beijing objects to the deployment of the anti-missile system, saying its radar would allow the United States to peer deep into China’s backyard. Seoul and Washington argue that the system is needed to counter security threats posed by North Korea.
Analysts also said China was unlikely to take very strong action against Pyongyang, with which it has close ties dating back to the cold war.
China fears that stricter measures against North Korea, such as cutting off provisions of oil and food, would lead to millions of refugees flocking across the border. The collapse of the regime could also put soldiers from South Korea and its US ally on China’s border.