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As tensions continue to mount on the Korean peninsula and in the surrounding east-Asian region, China appeared to make further preparations for what increasingly looked like an impending humanitarian crisis. According to The Korea Times, a Chinese government document was recently spotted in the border town of Dandong ordering the “urgent” recruitment of individuals fluent in both Chinese and Korean.
Though the document didn’t specify the number of Chinese-Korean interpreters to be recruited, it did mention 10 separate departments for which the interpreters could conceivably work, including departments dealing with border security, public safety, customs, trade and medical quarantine.
Radio Free Asia reported on the document as well, and while it noted that a Chinese foreign affairs spokesperson dismissed the urgent request for interpreters as “normal working requirements,” they couldn’t help but point out that the order came at a time of drastically increased tension and fear that military action against North Koreacould result in a flood of refugees surging across the border into China.
“Security and stability are very fragile at the moment, and the danger is great of a new conflict breaking out at any time,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a recent news conference. “We can’t risk even a 1 percent possibility of war.”
A journalist for The Toronto Globe and Mail who has been at the Chinese-North Korean border for a time also noted the document in an in-depth report on the tension that has settled over the entire region.
“People living here have a deep sense of fatigue,” explained Jin Qiangyi, director of the Centre for North and South Korea Studies at Yanbian University in China’s northeastern city of Yanji.
The people “are growing tired of it all,” the professor explained. “The current state of things is more tense than it has ever been in the past.”
The reporter also noted other cities and towns placing themselves on “high alert” status and an abundance of military vehicles and troops staged throughout the area.
He further noted that a failed nuclear test or similar catastrophe would likely send a cloud of radioactive contamination across the border into China, and that any sort of military strike or subsequent political unrest could prompt waves of refugees in the hundreds of thousands to try and flee the communist prison regime.
While the urgent request for Chinese-Korean interpreters could very well be nothing more than normal procedure as Chinese officials claimed, odds are great that they are actually in preparation for a military strike that may be forthcoming in the near future, particularly if rogue dictator Kim Jong Un insists on testing a nuclear device in spite of United Nations resolutions prohibiting him from doing so and a near-unanimous international alliance warning him explicitly not to.