China Ramps Up Military Defense on North Korean Border

A Chinese soldier holds a Chinese flag during Peace Mission-2016 joint military exercises of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the Edelweiss training area in Balykchy some 200 km from Bishkek on September 19, 2016. The joint anti-terrorism drill involves more than 1,100 troops of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan …

China has ramped up its military presence alongside the North Korean border amid fears of a potential escalation of tensions on the peninsula, The Wall Street Journal first reported.

The paper reported that Chinese authorities have increased surveillance with a”newly formed border defense brigade” along the 880-mile border the Liaoning province and conducted a series of drills with units from other regions. They have also installed a “combat readiness-level big data disaster recovery center” in preparation for any attack.

Analysts believe the decision is likely a response to President Donald Trump’s warnings that the United States will not hesitate to take military action to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. In April, Trump revealed he was “sending an armada” into the Korean peninsula but remained fairly secretive about his plans.

However, others also argue that Chinese authorities fear a mass exodus of North Korean refugees should war break out. “A mass movement of North Korean civilians across the border into China is a major concern, particularly given the dense population centers not far from the border, and the economic importance of Northeast China,” according to a recent report by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation, which focuses on issues pertaining to China and national security.

North Korean state television warned this month that the regime would “turn the US into a pile of ash” if Trump used military force to contain their nuclear program, the latest in a series of similar threats against Washington and Seoul.

Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Lu Kang, denied reports of any military action, stating that “China always maintains that military options shall never be considered to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue, because force will in no way settle disputes, but will only bring greater suffering, unbearable to all.”

In April, China deployed 150,000 troops to the North Korean border and also turned back a series of fully-loaded cargo ships in response to a series of missile tests to celebrate the birthday of the communist dictator and “eternal leader” Kim Il-sung.

However, Trump has expressed disappointment with Chinese efforts to contain North Korea, having promised the Chinese would do more to de-escalate tensions.

“While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out,” he wrote on Twitter, following the death of American hostage Otto Warmbier. “At least I know China tried!”

This month, the Trump administration prepared a series of sanctions on China amid frustration that Beijing had not acted to contain the North Korean threat, which included restrictions on small Chinese banks dealing with Pyongyang, as well as “shell” companies with links to the country’s nuclear and missile programs.

“The president is losing patience with China,” an administration official told Reuters at the time, adding that there would be a “more aggressive approach to sanctioning Chinese entities in the not-too-distant future.”

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