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China 'extremely embarrassed' by N. Korea's nuclear test

2016/01/11 15:14

BEIJING, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- Senior Chinese foreign ministry officials were "extremely embarrassed" by North Korea's fourth nuclear test, a South Korean diplomatic source who spoke with the Chinese officials said Monday, in an indication that Beijing itself has only limited access to deduce what is going on inside the isolated ally.

North Korea claimed it successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb last Wednesday with leader Kim Jong-un saying on Sunday that the claimed fourth nuclear test was a self-defensive measure against what he calls a threat of nuclear war from the United States.

Senior officials at China's foreign ministry had not expected North Korea to carry out the nuclear test because Kim made no mention of nuclear ambitions in his New Year's address.

The North's latest nuclear test flew in the face of overtures by China to improve bilateral ties that have been strained for years over Pyongyang's third nuclear test in February 2013.

Since Liu Yunshan, the Chinese Communist Party's fifth-ranked official, visited Pyongyang last October and held talks with Kim, there had been signs of improvement in bilateral ties between the allies.

Citing private discussions with senior officials at China's foreign ministry on the day when North Korea announced the fourth nuclear test, the source said they were "extremely embarrassed because nobody expected the nuclear test to take place."

   A senior Chinese official told the source, "We have been so naive in trying to anticipate what will happen in North Korea."

   South Korean Ambassador to China Kim Jang-soo will hold talks with China's chief nuclear envoy, Wu Dawei, on Monday evening in Beijing, the source said, adding that the meeting had been scheduled before the North's nuclear test.

"Of course, the top agenda of today's meeting will be North Korea's nuclear test," the source said.

While South Korea, the United States and Japan have called for China to put more pressure on North Korea after the fourth nuclear test, Beijing's response was lukewarm.

Many analysts believe that China's Communist Party leadership won't put enough pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions because a sudden collapse of the North's regime could threaten China's own security interests.