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China Worried Nuclear Fallout Could Force Hand on North Korea

But it's still publicly committed to peaceful talks
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2017 5:26 PM CDT
Updated Sep 7, 2017 2:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – North Korea has put China in a difficult spot with its latest nuclear test. And that spot will only get more difficult if radioactive contamination suddenly turns up in China. The Wall Street Journal reports China is stepping up its radiation monitoring in the wake of last weekend's North Korean nuclear test, which was staged less than 50 miles from China's border. More than 100 million people live in the three Chinese provinces closest to North Korea, and China is worried that nuclear fallout could lead to massive public outcry and force it to take a tougher stance against North Korea. China has stepped up radiation monitoring to emergency levels and will continue to test the soil, air, and water. No radiation has so far been detected from North Korea's underground nuclear test, its largest ever.

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Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping told President Trump over the phone Wednesday that the solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis must lie in peaceful talks, Reuters reports. However, North Korea's repeated nuclear tests may be weakening China's position on that. "Obviously, it is an insult to China,” an international politics professor in China tells NBC News regarding the latest nuclear test. Experts say China is frustrated and embarrassed that North Korea's nuclear tests are forcing it into conflict with the US and making people question its ability to control North Korea. While not official, media reports in China indicate its leadership may be opening up to new solutions in regards to North Korea. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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