Chinese military officials have placed cruise missile-capable bombers “on high alert” in anticipation of a threat from North Korea, reports CNN.
A U.S. Defense official told the network that U.S. Intelligence has seen a rising number of Chinese military aircraft being prepped for deployment, in what authorities believe will “reduce the time to react to a North Korea contingency.”
However, China’s ministry of defense denied the claims, stating that authorities conclusions were “not true.”
“The Chinese military at the China-North Korea border is maintaining a normal level of combat readiness and training,” the ministry said in a statement.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang confirmed he was “aware of the relevant reports” of an increased military presence but “had no information to give.”
Last week, China positioned 150,000 troops along their border with North Korea, as well as sending a fleet of fully-loaded cargo ships destined for North Korea back home. Kang confirmed that China had “serious concern with recent trends about North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.”
China’s military escalation comes amidst rising tensions in the region, with American President Donald Trump warning North Korea that the U.S. is sending “an armada” into the region, combined with reports that the administration is now willing to strike North Korea should it successfully carry out another nuclear weapons test.
Lu also commented upon the White House’s approach to the issue, praising them for seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
“American officials did make some positive and constructive remarks, such as using whatever peaceful means possible to resolve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. This represents a general direction that we believe is correct and should be adhered to,” he said.
This month, Donald Trump warned China that any help in solving the North Korean threat would be “great,” but the U.S. would “solve the problem without them” if need be.
North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2017
Similar measures were also taken by Russian president Vladimir Putin, who, this week, ordered troops and military resources on the 11-mile North Korean border in fear of a potential exodus of North Korean refugees, with Russian foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov noting that “risk of a serious conflict in this region has substantially increased.”