World

North Korea tensions: China places bombers on "high alert"

21 Apr 2017 | By Abheet Sethi

An American defense official said the Chinese military is preparing to respond to a possible situation in North Korea.

The US has seen a number of Chinese air force land-attack, cruise-missile-capable bombers being placed on "high alert" and full combat readiness through intensified maintenance.

The Chinese actions could increase risks of armed conflict amid heightened regional tensions following North Korea's recent ballistic missile tests.

In context: Chinese bombers on "high alert" against North Korea

IntroductionAbout North Korea and its nuclear programs

For over decades now, North Korea has been the most secretive country; its nuclear weapons program has its roots in the 1950s.

It is believed that the country possesses over 1,000 missiles of different capabilities, including long-range ones that could strike the US.

The country's nuclear program progressed over decades; from tactical artillery rockets during the 1960-70s to the present day's nuclear warheads.

18 Apr 2017North Korea: Will test missiles every week, month, year

North Korea's Vice-Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol has stated to the media that the country would conduct missile tests "on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis," adding that US interference will lead to an "all-out war."

His statements were a response to US Vice-President Mike Pence's recent statements in Seoul.

While in Tokyo, Pence said "all options are on the table" in dealing with Pyongyang.

21 Apr 2017North Korea tensions: China places bombers on "high alert"

Frustrated China China's actions indicate its growing frustration with North Korea

The Chinese military's actions are meant to "reduce the time to react to a North Korea contingency," the US official said.

This comes a day after the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the country was "gravely concerned" about North Korea's recent nuclear and missile tests.

China is considered the North's sole ally.

The developments indicate China's growing frustrations with the North's Kim Jong-un regime.

DetailsFor US, China is key to solving North Korea situation

Nearly 85% of North Korea's economic trade is dependent on China.

The US believes: "China has never exerted maximum leverage on the Kim regime."

The current Donald Trump administration believes Beijing has the potential to exert its influence to get Pyongyang to curb its nuclear and missile activities.

This was evident when Trump commended Chinese President Xi Jinping for Beijing's efforts on North Korea.

US: China wants peaceful solution, not military action

"Nobody thinks the Chinese are going to press North Korea militarily or bring the regime to its knees, but the strategy looks to China to find a political solution more than anything else," a senior Trump administration official said.

China's stanceChina opposes words/actions that would escalate regional tensions

On Wednesday, China's foreign ministry praised "positive and constructive remarks" by American officials on "using whatever peaceful means possible to resolve the (Korean) Peninsula nuclear issue."

China believes a peaceful resolution "represents a general direction that we believe is correct and should be adhered to."

"China firmly opposes any words or actions that would escalate rivalry and tension," it added.