(National Sentinel) Korea: For months we’ve been warning that war on the Korean peninsula is increasingly likely, as the United States has steadily moved additional military assets to the region while President Donald J. Trump and members of his national security team ramped up the rhetoric.
— China has been moving tens of thousands of troops near its 880-mile border region with the North; according to a Google Translation of a South Korean news agency report in April, that figure is 150,000.
— In addition to troops, China has also shifted air support and naval assets to the region.
— Beijing has drawn its own red line, so to speak, with North Korea, as an editorial in a state-run media outlet, the Global Times, noted in April: “China has a bottom line that it will protect at all costs, that is, the security and stability of northeast China… If the bottom line is touched, China will employ all means available including the military means to strike back. By that time, it is not an issue of discussion whether China acquiesces in the US’ blows, but the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will launch attacks to DPRK nuclear facilities on its own.”
— The Chinese have been actively recruiting North Korean interpreters and stationing them in towns near the border.
— In May, Beijing instructed its citizens to begin leaving North Korea “amid concerns” that the U.S. could launch a preemptive strike against the country.
— South Korea’s “diplomacy first” president, Moon Jae-in, has said he believes there is a “high probability” of conflict with the North.
— A North Korean defector recently observed that war with his former country is “inevitable,” based on leader Kim Jong-un’s quest to stay in power, even if it means sacrificing his nation.
Now, reports The Wall Street Journal, China is expending further resources in preparation for military action on the Korean peninsula:
China has been bolstering defenses along its 880-mile frontier with North Korea and realigning forces in surrounding regions to prepare for a potential crisis across their border, including the possibility of a U.S. military strike.
A review of official military and government websites and interviews with experts who have studied the preparations show that Beijing has implemented many of the changes in recent months after initiating them last year.
They coincide with repeated warnings by U.S. President Donald Trump that he is weighing military action to halt North Korea’s nuclear weapons program while exerting pressure on China to do more to rein in Pyongyang.
Recent Chinese measures include establishing a new border defense brigade, 24-hour video surveillance of the mountainous frontier backed by aerial drones, and bunkers to protect against nuclear and chemical blasts, according to the websites.
Also, Beijing has merged and modernized additional military units in the region and has released details of military exercises involving special forces, airborne and other troops that experts say would likely be used in any North Korean operation.
In short, this is an awful lot of activity and expenditure of financial and military resources for nothing; Beijing is apparently taking the Trump administration at its word that one way or another, the nuclear and ballistic missile threat posed by Pyongyang will be solved by the U.S. — with or without Chinese assistance. Indeed, Defense Secretary James Mattis has already put Pyongyang on notice, declaring North Korea to be a “clear and president danger” to the United States, the strongest of language used to historically to justify self-defensive measures.
In addition to moving naval assets to waters near North Korea — including massive Tomahawk-carrying Ohio-class missile submarines — the U.S. has been practicing bombing runs near the peninsula and moving missile defense assets to South Korea including the THAAD system.
With U.S. resolve being what it is, it makes sense that China would prepare for the worst-case scenario. But in addition to that, Beijing has further concerns that will no doubt play out behind the scenes, diplomatically.
For one, China has had long-standing fears that regime collapse/economic collapse in North Korea would cause a massive refugee crisis. But in addition to those concerns, Beijing now has to face the possibility that, with a unified Korean peninsula, it will be under control of democratic, U.S.-allied South Korea. And that is not something that President Xi Jinping is willing to tolerate, any more than the U.S. would tolerate a Russian or Chinese military presence in Canada or Mexico.
— A so-called ‘red line’ established far from China’s border that the U.S. and South Korea will not be permitted to cross;
— A deal regarding what to do with North Korean refugees, with the most likely outcome being that they will have to be absorbed by a unified Korean government;
— The U.S. may finally have to agree to leave the Korean peninsula, thereby easing Chinese concerns, but only with a guarantee of mutual assistance/security from Washington with the newly unified Korean government;
— None of the above will affect or alter U.S. or Chinese interests in the South China Sea.
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