China has conducted around 45 successful nuclear tests between 1964 and 1996, killing 194,000 people from acute radiation exposure.
Peter Suciu, writing in The National Interest said that estimates suggest 194,000 people have died from acute radiation exposure, while around 1.2 million may have received doses high enough to induce leukaemia, solid cancers and foetal damage.
After becoming the fifth nuclear power in the world, in June 1967, only thirty-two months after its first nuclear test, the People's Republic of China (PRC) conducted its first thermonuclear test.
The test produced a yield of 3.3 megatons—200 times greater than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
The effects of China's nuclear testing, especially those nearly two dozen atmospheric tests (a total of twenty-three were conducted in the atmosphere), have not largely been studied due to a lack of official data, says Suciu.
Xinjiang region that is home to some twenty million people of different ethnic backgrounds has remained unclear how radiation has affected the populace.
A Japanese researcher, who studied the radiation levels, has suggested the peak radiation dose in Xinjiang exceeded that measured on the roof of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor following the 1986 meltdown, reported The National Interest.
Reports have suggested that radioactive dust has spread across the region, and hundreds of thousands of people may have died already from the nearly four dozen total nuclear tests that were carried out between 1964 and 1969, says Suciu.
China conducted its first atomic bomb test in 1964 in Lop Nur - Project 596, known as the code word "Chic-1" by the US intelligence community (IC).
The last of China's atmospheric tests, which was also the last atmospheric test in the world, took place at Area D at Lop Nur on October 16, 1980—sixteen years to the day from the first test.
Since that time, all nuclear tests have been conducted underground due to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) concluded in 1996.
However, neither Washington nor Beijing has ratified it, even though China has sworn to have adhered to the terms, reported the National Interest.