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China Opposes N. Korean Nuclear Test

A South Korean man watches a TV news showing a file footage of North Korea's nuclear test at the Seoul train station in Seoul, South Korea, February 12, 2013.
China says it is "firmly opposed" to North Korea's nuclear test Tuesday and is calling for the resumption of six-party nuclear talks.

North Korea's main ally, Beijing, called for a calm response by all sides following this latest nuclear test by North Korea. A foreign ministry statement noted that North Korea took action Tuesday "heedless of widespread international opposition." It did not specify what actions Beijing might take on its own in response.

Jin Canrong, a professor at China’s Renmin University School of International Studies, believes the third nuclear test will harm North Korea's relations with China.

He says the standoff hurts China's goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, adding that it poses difficulties for China's position in the Security Council.

The location of the nuclear test site in North Korea.
The location of the nuclear test site in North Korea.
Last month, China supported a Security Council resolution tightening existing sanctions on North Korea, but it has resisted supporting new sanctions.

In the wake of Tuesday’s test Jin Canrong says China will likely first cool political and diplomatic relations with North Korea and then use trade ties as leverage.

He notes that the economy is North Korea's weak spot and that Chinese aid should have a strong effect. He says this third test should bring China to take some action on the economic front.

In recent weeks, Chinese state media warned that Beijing might cut food aid to North Korea if there was a third nuclear test. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has urged North Korea to develop its economy and improve living conditions for its people. How China responds to this significant foreign policy challenge will provide clues to the new leadership's agenda.