Several reports out of the China-North Korean border area indicate that Beijing is massing People’s Liberation Army troops on the frontier and has told them to prepare for war.
“Columns of (People’s Liberation Army) trucks have been pictured on the move near Yanji City which is close to the triple border between China, Russia and North Korea,” the U.K. Star reported Tuesday.
According to a computer translation of the Korean-language Daily NK, military trucks have been moving into position at night so as not to attract the attention of locals.
“There were so many soldiers in (vehicles) that there was a traffic jam,” a source reportedly said on Dec. 30. “We have not seen so many soldiers trucking to Yanji so far.”
Sources in the Chinese media have said that the PLA is “preparing for war on the Korean Peninsula” and that army commanders have participated in a “war ceremony” urging their troops to be ready for war. Pictures of the ceremony, shot last month, show massive gatherings of Chinese troops, all of whom were purportedly swearing oaths only given during wartime.
Meanwhile, residents of the area have apparently been told that “Trump (is) to hit North Korea in the New Year, we are preparing for war on the peninsula,” a source said. China’s move comes as North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un warned in his New Year’s Day address that he has a “nuclear button” on his desk and that North Korea would continue its development of atomic weapons in 2018.
“The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat,” Kim said, according to NBC News.
“This year, we should focus on mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment. These weapons will be used only if our society is threatened.”
The troop movement also comes as President Trump accused the Chinese of selling oil to North Korean tankers at sea.
“Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea,” the president tweeted. “There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!”
The tweet came after it was revealed that the South Koreans had intercepted a Chinese-flagged vessel accused of selling oil to the North Koreans in violation of United Nations sanctions imposed after Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test. However, reports have also indicated that the incident wasn’t isolated, with Chinese-flagged vessels spotted transferring oil to North Korea 30 times since October.
There have been three possible reasons postulated for China’s massive buildup on the North Korean border. The first is to guard against an influx of refugees should a war break out in North Korea. The second would be to seize assets in the hermit state should the Kim regime fall. The third — and most ominous — is that China could be prepared to join any possible war on North Korea’s side.
While China has shown support for imposing sanctions against North Korea, it’s shown less enthusiasm for actually enforcing them. Beijing is also Pyongyang’s closest ally and trading partner, something that the Trump administration has repeatedly tried to leverage to get Kim Jong Un under control during this latest spell of bellicosity.
Would Beijing be willing to spark a world war over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, particularly if the first move comes from Pyongyang? It’s not entirely implausible, especially given this latest buildup. Bottom line: If you were worried about Chinese military intervention in North Korea before, this is not a pleasant augury.
H/T Zero Hedge