Several sources out of Asia indicate that China is moving 300,000 troops to its border with North Korea and strengthening its missile defense systems in the region.
On Monday, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo reported that Radio Free Asia detailed how China “is preparing for a potential war on the Korean Peninsula by reinforcing missile defenses near the border with North Korea.”
“RFA quoted a North Korean source in China as saying the Chinese military late last year deployed another missile defense battery at an armored division in Helong, west of Longjing in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture,” Chosun Ilbo reported. “Military units in Yanbian were relocated from Heilongjiang Province, thus adding 300,000 troops along the border, the source added.
“Now it is deploying missile defense batteries near North Korean reservoirs by the Apnok and Duman rivers.”
The Radio Free Asia report came on the same day that China’s state-run People’s Daily published an article which discussed beefing up its nuclear monitoring capability, specifically mentioning North Korea as a point of emphasis.
“China’s construction of nuclear monitoring stations would help the world better monitor nuclear activities in the region, including North Korea, which analysts said shows China’s commitment to global nonproliferation,” the article, published Friday, read.
“China’s monitoring stations are responsible for detecting nuclear activities in neighboring countries, including North Korea … (and) detection is not targeted at any particular country.
“North Korea has been continuously condemned by the international community for conducting nuclear tests.”
Beijing-run state media may not be the best place to glean the truth, but it’s particularly instructive if you want to know what the People’s Republic of China wants you to think.
In this case, given that a border buildup wouldn’t exactly look great for Beijing — particularly since it would indicate they were possibly gearing up for war — a People’s Daily piece that details how their “monitoring stations” are really there for peace and how they certainly weren’t putting themselves on war footing would seem to be conspicuously well-placed on a day where news of their military buildup was about to emerge.
As with past buildups we’ve noticed over the past few months as world tensions with North Korea have ratcheted up, there are three likely reasons behind it (if, of course, you dismiss out of hand the very unlikely circumstance where North Korea turns on its only major remaining ally).
The first, and most innocuous, would be to guard against any influx of refugees from North Korea into China were the Kim regime to abruptly fall. Secondly, troops could move in to seize assets in the country should a power vacuum develop.
The most ominous reason, of course, would be to provide some level of protection to North Korea in the event of conflict, all the way up to joining the war on Pyongyang’s side given the right circumstances.
The most recent troop buildup on the border was reported at the beginning of last month. At that time, details were sketchy, but what we could discern made it clear that “(c)olumns of trucks” were moving into the region and Chinese soldiers were being given oaths usually only used in times of war.
That wasn’t a good sign. This is worse.
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