BEIJING, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- North Korea's latest nuclear test may encourage the United States and its allies to boost military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, Chinese analysts said.
Even as China, the only major ally of North Korea, officially expressed "strong" opposition to the test conducted on Tuesday in violation of U.N. sanctions, Chinese analysts speaking to China Daily warned of what of the test's likely repercussions.
"More drills by the U.S. and its allies are possible in a bid to show their firm opposition to the nuclear test and other measures by Pyongyang they call provocative," Wang Fan, an expert on Korean studies at the China Foreign Affairs University, told China Daily. He said the United States and its allies also will speed up deployment of anti-missile systems, citing the need to contain North Korea.
The newspaper said Beijing is engaged "in a flurry of diplomacy" to ease the region tension.
The report said the United States, South Korea and Japan have agreed to deepen cooperation to curb North Korea, even as China makes efforts to resume the Six-Party talks, designed to denuclearize North Korea. The talks, involving the two Koreas, Japan, China, the United States and Russia, have not resumed since 2009 after the North walked out.
China Daily said Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi talked on telephone with his South Korea counterpart Kim Sung-hwan to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
The report said Yang also talked with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, urging all parties to remain focused and avoid escalation.
Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, told China Daily South Korea needs to soothe domestic worries over the North's nuclear test.
Ruan, saying President Barack Obama has assured South Korean President Lee Myung-bak of U.S. protection, also said the assurance showed Washington may use Pyongyang's test as an excuse to push for military deployment in East Asia, a scenario that will only increase regional tension.
China Daily, citing the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, reported the North's nuclear test has not had a negative impact on China's environment or public health. The report said readings from 25 monitoring stations on and near the border showed normal levels. The North's test site is about 62 miles from the China-North Korea border.
In a separate article, China Daily quoted its Foreign Ministry that the nuclear test was conducted "in disregard of the common opposition of the international community", and "the Chinese government is firmly opposed to this act."
The ministry said: "We strongly urge (North Korea) to honor its commitment to denuclearization and refrain from any move that may further worsen the situation."