China Takes Responsibility For "Explosion" Near North Korean Border; Denies Nuclear Test Rumors

Update: Chinese authorities are taking responsibility for Monday’s blast, claiming it happened on their side of the border. Reporters pointed out that the magnitude of the blast was much smaller than a nuclear test, and Chinese authorities have advised that this was not a nuclear test.

As one of the reporters who broke the news said, North Korean wouldn’t dare embarrassing the Chinese with a rogue nuclear test so soon after the announcement of President Xi’s historic visit.

* * *

AFP is reporting a “suspected explosion” near the China-North Korea border that appears to bear some resemblance to an eartquake, possibly one triggered by the country’s nuclear program.

Reports about a possible quake could turn out to be far more innocuous than they seem at first. Reports of a quake from March turned out to be unconnected to any new nuclear tests.


In a reading that would seem to suggest an explosion may have been involved, Seismic agency China Earthquake Networks Center reportedly recorded a 1.3 magnitude earthquake with a depth of zero kilometers in Hunchun City, Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, a region bordering North Korea, according to the agency’s website.

The site referred to the incident as a “suspected explosion,” without providing any additional details. Pyongyang hasn’t commented on the possible cause of the blast.

News of the quake almost immediately followed an announcement on Chinese and North Korean state media that President Xi Jinping would make an official state visit to Pyongyang this week in what will be a historic occasion for North Korea. Xi will meet with Kim during the visit on Thursday and Friday (June 20 and 21) during the first trip by a Chinese leader to Pyongyang in 14 years.


Kim has repeatedly visited with Xi and other senior Chinese officials during trips to Beijing over the last two years. He also recently visited Russia in the first meeting between a North Korean head of state and a post-Soviet Russian leader. But visits to Pyongyang by foreign dignitaries are few and far between.

The visit coincides with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and North Korea. Media reports claimed the two leaders will ‘exchange views’ on the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

But the timing of the visit – coming at a time when tensions with Beijing are escalating and denuclearization talks with North Korea have stalled following the collapse of talks in Hanoi – likely isn’t a coincidence. The message to Washington is clear: Refuse to play nice on trade, and North Korea could quickly become a geopolitical problem again.

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