China detects 3.4 N. Korea earthquake on surface, fears of new nuclear test emerge

China detects 3.4 N. Korea earthquake on surface, fears of new nuclear test emerge
A magnitude 3.4 earthquake, at a depth of 0 kilometers, has been recorded near the Kilju area in the North Hamgyeong Province of North Korea, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC).

The ‘quake’ occurred at approximately 08:29 GMT (16:29 local time) on Saturday, CENC reported. Kilju is home to the Punggyeri nuclear site, where North Korea’s sixth and largest nuclear test was conducted on September 3.

Japanese news agency Kyodo reports that the quake was caused by a “suspected explosion” at the site, while Yonhap reports, that as of right now, the Korea Meteorological Administration believe the quake “occurred naturally.”

“A sound wave, which is usually generated in the event of an artificial earthquake, was not detected,” an agency official said, as cited by Yonhap.

Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the Nuclear proliferation watchdog the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) confirmed that an investigation is already underway following “unusual seismic activity.”

Zerbo added that the tremor took place roughly 50km from the site of previously confirmed tests.

Analysts looking at unusual  activity of a much smaller magnitude in the  : 23-SEP-2017 08:30 UTC / More details to come!

Update: Korean Peninsula unusual  activity: LAT=41.36 LON=129.76 mb=3.5
About 50km from prior tests. Analysts investigating.

If confirmed as a nuclear test, it would be the North Korean regime’s seventh. However, all previous tests registered above 4.3 on the Richter scale, with the most recent test on September 3 being recorded as a 6.3 magnitude quake.

The September 3 test spurred the latest raft of UN sanctions and has raised tensions between the US, its allies, and the North Korean regime.

S.Korean ‘talk of appeasement’ with N.Korea will not work, @realDonaldTrump adds    

Photo published for N. Korea tested hydrogen bomb that can be mounted on ICBM – state TV — RT News

N. Korea tested hydrogen bomb that can be mounted on ICBM – state TV — RT News

Pyongyang has successfully tested a hydrogen bomb which can be mounted on an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), the country’s state TV announced. Earlier an “artificial quake” was registered…

Saturday’s quake follows an escalation of the combative rhetoric between the North Korean and US leaders this week.

Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump have exchanged a variety of barbs through state media agencies and Twitter respectively, in recent days.

READ MORE: Trump: ‘Madman Kim Jong-un will be tested like never before’

Courtesy, RT

China banks reportedly to halt business with North Korea as South Korea sends $8 million

North Korea learned this week Chinese banks will no longer do business with the Hermit Kingdom, in the strongest sign yet pressure from the Trump administration to choke off funding to the rogue nation is working.

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Chinese banks received a document Monday stating they should halt financial services and loans to new and existing North Korean customers as a result of strict U.N. sanctions passed earlier this month, a source told Reuters on Thursday.

“Our bank is fulfilling our international obligations and implementing United Nations sanctions against North Korea. As such, we refuse to handle any individual loans connected to North Korea,” the document reportedly said.


The move comes after repeated calls from the Trump administration for China to help cut the flow of money to Kim Jong Un’s dictatorship in an effort to cripple the regime’s missile and nuclear programs. China and Russia agreed to the recent UN sanctions against North Korea, which included a ban on natural gas liquids and condensates. But Trump has explicitly called out China on Twitter, writing he’s “very disappointed” in the country and accusing them of “doing NOTHING for us with North Korea.”

China, North Korea’s closest ally, has urged a diplomatic solution to solve the current crisis. “War Stories” host Lt. Col. Oliver North told Fox News on Monday, however, he believes China will only truly try to tame its volatile neighbor if it believes Trump could take military action.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, center, presides over an interagency meeting for humanitarian aid to North Korea at the government complex in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. South Korea on Thursday decided to resume humanitarian aid to North Korea to help children and pregnant women, but didn't determine when to provide the $8 million worth of assistance amid tensions created by Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests. (Kim Seung-doo/Yonhap via AP)

South Korea on Thursday decided to resume humanitarian aid to North Korea to help children and pregnant women, but didn’t determine when to provide the $8 million worth of assistance amid tensions created by Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.  (AP)

“They [China] don’t think we are really sincere about military action. It’s going to take action, not words,” North said.

China’s surprising instructions to banks this week, however, were at least partially undermined when South Korea on Thursday approved $8 million in supposed humanitarian aid to North Korea.

Some South Korean officials fear the new aid will send a mixed signal to international leaders. Son Kim-ju, a lawmaker and spokesman of the opposition People’s Party, told The Associated Press the announcement is “badly timed.”

“The international community is strengthening sanctions and pressure against North Korea and even [President Moon Jae-in] is in the United States to strengthen international coordination against the North Korean problem,” Son said. “If our government contradicts itself and beats to a different beat, it won’t be able to gain the approval of its own people, let alone other countries.”

FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2017, file photo, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho gets into a car at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing. Ri in New York on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, described as "the sound of a dog barking" U.S President Donald Trump's threat to destroy his country. The comments are the North's first response to Trump's speech at the U.N. General Assembly. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho described Trump’s threats against Kim Jong Un’s regime as “the sound of a dog barking.”  (AP)


A set date on when the money will begin flowing into North Korea has not been decided.

Moon previously said humanitarian aid and political issues should be handled separately. Seoul stopped the aid in January 2016 after Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test. But after meeting with ministries and civilian experts, Moon decided to resume aid to help North Korean children and pregnant woman, the Unification Ministry said. The money is intended to support programs run by U.N. Children’s Fund and U.N. Food Program.

The ministry added the assistance doesn’t include cash and there’s “realistically no possibility” the North could use it to support its military. About 18 million of the 25 million people who live in North Korea experience food shortages with a high child and mortality rates, according to the U.N.

Moon also said Thursday he doesn’t seek to collapse Kim’s regime and is ready to help the country if it seeks peace, Yonhap News Agency reported. The South Korean leader also urged North Korea to give up its nuclear program.

There’s been no shortage of animosity between the U.S. and North Korea during the U.N. General Assembly this week, with attacks coming from both sides. Trump, in his U.N. speech, mocked Kim by calling him “rocket man,” who’s on “a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

“North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life,” Trump said Tuesday.

North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho fired back Wednesday, telling reporters the president’s threats were “the sound of a dog barking.”

“There is a saying that goes: ‘Even when dogs bark, the parade goes on,’” Ri said. “It would be a dog’s dream if [Trump] intended to scare us with the sound of a dog barking.”

Ri then joked he felt “sorry” for Trump’s aides when asked about the “rocket man” comment.

President Trump signed an executive order Thursday targeting North Korea’s trading partners, calling it a “powerful” new tool aimed at isolating and denuclearizing the regime.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Courtesy, Fox News

Pyongyang’s main economic lifeline falls as China bans key imports from N. Korea

Pyongyang’s main economic lifeline falls as China bans key imports from N. Korea
China has announced a full ban on imports of coal, iron, and seafood, among other goods from North Korea, thus cutting key export revenues for Pyongyang.

Starting Tuesday, no more exports of North Korean coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood will be accepted to the country, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced on Monday. Goods that have already reached Chinese ports and customs should be released not later than September 5.

READ MORE: Chinese oil major stops fuel exports to North Korea

However, the measures are not applied to exports of coal through North Korea’s Rason port by a third party, if it has UN approval and can prove that the goods do not originate from North Korea.

The announcement indicates Beijing’s full implementation of the latest UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution against North Korea, which targets key revenue sources of the communist state, depriving it of $1 billion annual foreign revenue. The restrictive measures were unanimously approved by all 15 members of the UNSC in response to North Korea’s latest missile tests, which it claims were of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

China is considered North Korea’s main economic lifeline, and the success of the latest round of sanctions depends to a large degree on Beijing. Following the UN vote in favor of punitive measures against Pyongyang on August 5, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi acknowledged that the UN resolution would affect the country’s economic interests, but promised that China is prepared “to pay most of the price” for it.

Tensions between the US – which initiated the latest UN resolution – and North Korea have been mounting recently with increasingly belligerent threats from both sides.

READ MORE: ‘Big mistake for US to think it’s safe’ – N. Korea hits out after new UN sanctions

Meanwhile, Pyongyang recalled some heads of its foreign missions in China, Russia, and the UN back home to participate in a special diplomatic meeting on Monday, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap. The number of ambassadors called in to participate in the meeting is unclear.

The meeting may be a regular gathering of North Korean diplomats, according to Ministry of Unification spokesman Baik Tae-hyun, as cited by Yonhap.

The meeting may have been called “to deal with the difficult international circumstance the country is currently handling,” Yonhap reports.

READ MORE: North Korea stands no chance against US, Guam threat is a bluff – Russian general to RT

Courtesy, RT

Japan defense review: North Korea threats enter new stage

An official defense report published by Japan says the threat from North Korea has reached a new stage. North Korea is now capable of launching intercontinental missiles and has advanced its nuclear weapons program.

Nordkorea Raketentest (picture-alliance/AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency)

Japan stepped up its warning of the acute threat posed by North Korea’s weapons program in its annual Defense White Paper released Tuesday. Pyongyang has continued a series of missile and nuclear tests in defiance of UN sanctions, including firing two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) last month that landed off Japan’s west coast off Hokkaido island.

“Since last year, when it forcibly implemented two nuclear tests and more than 20 ballistic missile launches, the security threats have entered a new stage,” the Japanese Defense Ministry said in the 563-page document.

“It is conceivable that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has already considerably advanced and it is possible that North Korea has already achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and has acquired nuclear warheads,” it said.

A change in direction

North Korea’s latest ICBM test showed that Pyongyang may now be able to reach well beyond Japan and even hit most of the continental United States with its missiles and weapons. The missile in the most recent test was fired at an extremely lofted trajectory, making the full scale of its capabilities difficult to discern.

This growing threat has prompted Japanese municipalities to hold a number of evacuation drills in case of a possible missile attack.

Infografik North Korea's missile ranges

With North Korea pressing on with missile tests, a group of ruling party lawmakers led by Itsunori Onodera, who became defense minister on Thursday, urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in March to consider acquiring the capability to hit enemy bases. That would be considered a drastic change in Japan’s defense outlook, which is based on its pacifist post-World War II constitution. While the current government has in recent years revised aspects of the constitution and increased its defense budget, Tokyo has not yet gone so far as to acquire bombers or cruise missiles with enough range to strike other countries.

Read more: North Korea crisis: Which country has the strongest military in the region?

China’s growing strength

The white paper also highlighted concerns over China’s expanding influence in the region, pointing out that the number of Japan’s jet scrambles against Chinese aircraft hit a record high in the year to March 2017.

“There is a possibility that their naval activities, as well as air force activities, will pick up pace in the Sea of Japan from now on,” the white paper said.

Tokyo’s ties with Beijing have been plagued in recent years by the ongoing territorial dispute over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

Watch video01:36

Hiroshima casts watchful eye on North Korea

ss/se (AP, Reuters, AFO)




Up to 100 feared dead in China earthquake

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 has struck a remote part of China’s far northwestern region of Xinjiang, with no deaths reported. But many still remain trapped following an earlier quake, with scores feared dead.

Photo taken on Aug. 8, 2017 shows a street view after earthquake near the tourist center in Jiuzhaigou County (picture alliance/dpa/Photoshot)

Officials in China have confirmed that a strong earthquake in southwestern Sichuan province on Tuesday killed at least nine people and injured dozens more. More were feared dead, however, after the 6.5 magnitude quake hit the remote, mountainous region.

There were tourists among the victims, authorities said, as the Jiuzhai Valley national park, a UNESCO world heritage site famous for its scenic lakes and waterfalls, lay inside the danger zone. About 100 more tourists remained trapped in one part of the park late on Tuesday as emergency response workers rushed to rescue them.

“There are fatalities. The numbers await confirmation,” a Sichuan government official told German news agency dpa.

Quake felt in Beijing

The tremor was so strong it could be felt 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) away in the capital, Beijing.

Chinese state TV announced that Jiuzhai Valley park would remain closed as part of the state of emergency declared in the area.

Photo taken on Aug. 8, 2017 shows a damaged car in the earthquake in Jiuzhaigou County of southwest China's Sichuan Province (picture alliance/dpa/Photoshot)Authorities said the number of fatalities could not yet be confirmed

“The quake hit at night, communications lines and electricity are disrupted and people are no doubt shocked and scared,” said a spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in China, which has dispatched relief workers to the area.

China’s National Commission for Disaster Reduction said later in a statement that it feared up to 100 could have been killed and hundreds of thousands of homes may be damaged as a result of the earthquake.

The quake was the second disaster to strike Sichuan in a single day. Earlier, a landslide triggered by heavy rains killed at least 24 people south of Chengdu.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities and the US Geological Survey on Wednesday reported a second earthquake with a magnitude of at least 6.3 in the Xinjiang province near China’s border with Kazakhstan. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in the sparsely populated area.

ls, es/cmk (AFP, dpa)


China’s internet crackdown reaches new level of restriction

Foreign VPNs have been removed from China’s Apple stores, WhatsApp messages are being filtered and a massive censorship campaign scrubbed social media of Liu Xiaobo. What is happening to the Chinese web?

China Beijing - Google zensiert in China (Imago/ZUMA Press)

Beijing’s censors are busy adding more bricks to the “Great Firewall of China” – a popular term for the widespread use of online censorship in the country run by the Communist Party.

Over the weekend, Apple confirmed that it had removed foreign Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) from Apple online stores in accordance with Chinese government regulations passed in January stipulating that all VPNs in China require a government license.


Have you ever wondered if your government monitors what you do on your smartphone? If you lived in China, this would be an every-day Orwellian reality. (31.03.2017)

VPNs redirect a user’s online activity through another network and permit access to restricted web content. Without using a VPN, internet users in mainland China cannot access many foreign websites like Facebook. Critics have accused Apple of bending to pressure from the Chinese government.

“Our preliminary research indicates that all major VPN apps for iOS have been removed,” ExpressVPN, a major VPN provider in China, wrote in a statement released Saturday.

“We’re disappointed in this development, as it represents the most drastic measure the Chinese government has taken to block the use of VPNs to date, and we are troubled to see Apple aiding China’s censorship efforts,” it added.

Read: Apple deletes New York Times apps in China

“We received notice of Apple’s removal of VPN apps around 4:00 am GMT on July 29, 2017 through iTunes Connect, which is Apple’s tool for developers who have made apps available for download through the App Store,” an ExpressVPN spokesperson told DW in a written statement.

“ExpressVPN remains focused on ensuring users can continue to connect securely and reliably, no matter where they are located. Users in China can continue to stay connected to the open internet with ExpressVPN’s apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and other platforms,” the spokesperson stated.

“Those in China wishing to connect with iPhones or iPads can download the ExpressVPN iOS app from a different country’s App Store – they simply need to register an additional App Store account with a billing address in a country of their choice, with no corresponding payment method needed.”

Without the use of VPNs, most of the internet will be off-limits to China, home to the world’s largest number of internet users. Apple also recently announced it would be building a data center in China to comply with new cybersecurity laws.

The restriction on VPNs is the latest in a series of internet curtailments that have been rolled out by Beijing in only the past month. One of the most glaring cases followed the death of Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo on July 13. It was widely reported that Chinese censors actively blocked any discussion of Liu on Chinese social media.

Screenshot von Citzienlab Kanada - Zensur von Liu Xiaobo auf WeChat in China ( screenshot from WeChat in Canada and China showing Liu removed from the Chinese device

Forced compliance 

The Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto,analyzed the censorship of commemorating Liu, both on the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat, and the Weibo search engine.

Their findings showed that censors are increasing the breadth of censorship, even blocking images in one-on-one and group chats for the first time, in addition to filtering text messaging.

Masashi Crete-Nishihata, Research Manager at the Citizen Lab, told DW that social media companies operating in China must follow strict content regulations.

“It’s important to understand how censorship of social media works in China. Companies are held responsible for content on their platforms and are expected to dedicate resources to ensure compliance or face penalties,” he said.

“The government effectively offloads the responsibility for content control to the private sector, creating a system of ‘self-discipline.'”

Crete-Nishihata added that research has shown that social media companies have flexibility in deciding how to implement official controls.

“This situation leaves companies in a balancing act between growing their business and attracting users, all the while staying within the lines set by the government,” he said. “Social media platforms in China generally block content through a combination of automated filters and review teams that manually inspect content.”

Watch video00:47

China goes all out censoring online reaction to Xiaobo death

Danger of dissidence

In the case of commemorating Liu Xiaobo, Citizen Lab was able to determine that censors were working in real time to filter out all mention of Liu’s name and legacy from WeChat, the most popular messaging platform in China with an estimated 889 million monthly users.

“The death of Liu marks a particularly critical moment for the Communist Party of China,” said Crete-Nishihata, pointing out that the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests grew out of a public mourning of Hu Yaobang, a former Communist Party general secretary who had been purged after falling out of favor with powerful party officials.

“Like Hu, Liu was a popular symbol of political reform and freedom, and his death could potentially rally the public to mourn or cause embarrassment to the authorities,” added the expert.

“While it is not known what specific directives may have been sent down from the government, given the high sensitivity of Liu’s death, it is likely companies received instructions on how to handle it or may have proactively sought out official guidance.”

Apple’s capitulation to China’s VPN crack-down will return to haunt it at home 

Photo published for Apple’s capitulation to China’s VPN crack-down will…

Apple’s capitulation to China’s VPN crack-down will…

Yesterday Apple removed all major VPN apps from its App Store in the country. These VPNs aided internet users there to get around the government’s vast system of censorship and access uncensored…

No app is safe

Shortly after commemoration of Liu’s passingwas scrubbed from the Chinese web, WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service, experienced disruptions in service for the first time. Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009, but WhatsApp has been able to function in the country. But on July 18, it was reported that WhatsApp users in China could no longer receive photos and videos. Text messages were still getting through.

Experts told the Associated Press that it appeared China was blanket blocking all video and photo content because they could not selectively block content as they did on Chinese-based WeChat.

Crete-Nishihata from Citizen Lab said that there was no evidence of WhatsApp cooperating with the Chinese government for content filtering. “WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, meaning that messages are only readable to the users in a conversation,” said the expert. “WhatsApp services being disrupted in China appears to have been done by WhatsApp servers being blocked by China’s national web filtering system.”

Read:Winnie-the-Pooh banned in China for resembling the president

Clean-up before the congress

Experts also point to the upcoming 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress as a reason behind Beijing’s ramped-up control of online information and communication.

For example, before and during the last party congress in 2012, there was an increase in online censorship, including a blockade on Google and Western media websites.

“The upcoming party congress is another example of an event that is sensitive to the Communist Party of China,” said Crete-Nishihata. “It is likely that in the lead up to the party congress we will see tightened restrictions and blocking of content related to party leaders, especially Xi Jinping and anything that may be perceived as harming his reputation.”




  • Date 01.08.2017
  • Author Wesley Rahn
  • Related Subjects FacebookGoogleAsiaPeople’s Republic of China
  • Keywords Asia, China, China censorship, Social Media, WeChat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Google, Chinese Communist Party Congress, Liu Xiaobo
  • Courtesy: DW

Russia, China are North Korea’s ‘enablers,’ Tillerson says

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson lashed out at Russia and China early Saturday, following North Korea’s second test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile – and reports that Kim Jong Un’s regime was now capable of striking cities on the U.S. mainland.

Tillerson labeled the two U.S. rivals the “principal economic enablers” of North Korea’s weapons programs, and called on them to ramp up efforts to curb the growing nuclear threat from Pyongyang.

“All nations should take a strong public stance against North Korea by maintaining and strengthening U.N. sanctions to ensure North Korea will face consequences for its relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them,” Tillerson said.

China has reportedly pressed North Korea to abide by all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and cease any actions that could escalate tensions.

Meanwhile, President Trump condemned North Korea’s action as “reckless and dangerous,” and said the U.S. will take all “necessary steps” to protect itself and its allies.

Kim expressed “great satisfaction” following the ICBM test. The missile traveled 620 miles until landing in waters near Japan, according to Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency.

Analysts now believe Pyongyang’s weapons can hit U.S. cities such as Los Angeles or Chicago.

Tillerson said the U.S. wants a peaceful resolution to denuclearize North Korea, adding that Washington “will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.”

The United States “will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.”

– Rex Tillerson, U.S. secretary of state

The secretary of state was in contact with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. They planned to work closely with South Korea on a U.N. Security Council resolution to crack down on the rogue North, Japan’s Kyodo News Service reported Saturday.

Following North Korea’s ICBM launch, forces from the U.S. and its ally South Korea conducted joint military exercises in the region that included the launch of a barrage of missiles of their own.

South Korea has stepped up its military presence along the Korean Peninsula in recent weeks, and was considering deploying additional anti-missile systems. The recent ICBM test has also prompted South Korea to discuss with the U.S. increasing the warhead limit of their missiles from 1,100 pounds, to a ton.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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