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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump solution to North Korea's claim that it tested a hydrogen bomb is to let China deal with it. "If they don't solve that problem, we should be very tough on them on trade — meaning, start charging them tax or start cutting them off," Trump said. "You'd have China collapse in about two minutes."
China did have stern words for Pyongyang after North Korean television announced that the nation had successfully concluded its first thermonuclear weapon test. "China firmly opposes this," China's Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement, referring to the test. "We urge North Korea to fulfill its promise of denuclearisation and stop any actions that would worsen the situation."
But North Korea seems to care less and less about what China thinks. The bomb test was in response to US "hostility," according to Pyongyang officials, but it may have been a sign of the deteriorating relationship between the North Korea and China.
"In a way, this is a protest against Beijing," Bo Zhiyue, director of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Center at Victoria University of Wellington, told the Washington Post. "They are saying: 'We can do whatever we want. This shows our independence, and we don't need your approval.' "
China has long expressed its disapproval of North Korea's nuclear programme. However, Beijing's influence over Pyongyang has been slipping since Kim Jong-un took over as North Korea's leader at the end of 2011 and Xi Jinping became president of China in 2013.
Western scientists believe that the test almost certainly did not involve a hydrogen bomb, but are still checking the evidence, measuring the power and shape of the seismic kick from the test, and checking air samples from detector sensors in nearby nations.
North Korea has detonated nuclear weapons at least three times in the past. Most experts believe that those previous tests involved atomic bombs, but not hydrogen bombs.