The tremor was felt in Hunchun city in northeastern Jilin province and has been recorded as magnitude 1.3 with a zero-metre depth by the China Earthquake Networks Center. It struck at approximately 1.45pm BST (7.38pm local time). The depth and nature of the mini quake has led some to think it was caused by an explosion on North Korean soil – however, its nature is still unknown.
Nuclear tests run by Pyongyang in the past have caused small quakes and light tremors.
In September 2017, a test conducted at North Korea’s nuclear site at Punggye-ri, under Mount Mantap, triggered a 6.3-magnitude earthquake.
Chinese seismologists later said that Pyongyang’s main nuclear test site had partially collapsed, rendering it unusable, following the blast – which North Korea claimed was a hydrogen bomb test.
A small earthquake has been felt near the China-North Korea border (Image: GETTY/AFP)
However, AFP news agency said local officials thought a “suspected explosion was triggered by an earthquake”.
And Vipin Narang, a security studies professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, played down cause of the quake.
He wrote on Twitter: “Don’t be alarmed just yet folks.
“Mining explosions for example can cause small tremors.”
Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un during their first ever bilateral meeting last year (Image: GETTY)
The mini quake happened just an hour after it was revealed China’s President Xi Jinping was paying a visit to its reclusive neighbour – the first Beijing leader to head to North Korea in 14 years.
China’s official broadcaster CCTV said: “Both sides will exchange views on the Korean peninsula situation, and push for new progress in the political resolution of the peninsula issue.”
New nuclear tests run by Pyongyang would threaten the already fragile relations the hermit country has with the West, which were slowly being rebuilt following bilateral meetings between North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.
Human rights activists are also putting increasing pressure on the country’s dictatorship, with a South Korean human rights group claiming there are 323 state-sanctioned execution sites in the northern part of the peninsula.
The tremor took place just one hour after it was revealed Xi Jinping would visit the country (Image: GOOGLE MAPS)
Kim Jong-un became the Supreme Leader of North Korea in 2011 (Image: GETTY)
The chilling report, conducted by Transition Justice Working Group, has been drafted with the help of 610 North Korean defectors who spoke with the group.
The report said: “The North Korean Government’s routine killing of its citizens and the denial of the right of family members to give the dead a proper burial has profound effects that last long after the event.
“Brief ‘trials’ almost always occur on the spot immediately before a public execution, where charges are stated and a sentence given without legal counsel for the accused, who very often appears ‘half dead’ when brought to the site by the authorities.
“Given the lack of due process in the North Korean judicial system it is difficult to know whether the charges announced at an execution actually match the act committed by the accused.”
(Additional reporting by Joe Gamp)