It’s not just the United States that could soon see itself engaged in a deadly conflict with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. China is also at risk of an imminent war with North Korea, warned some of China’s most prestigious national security experts at a conference in Beijing this week.
“Conditions on the peninsula now make for the biggest risk of a war in decades,” said Shi Yinhong, director of the Center on American Studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing and an adviser to the State Council of China on diplomacy issues since February 2011, during the conference. “North Korea is a time bomb. We can only delay the explosion, hoping that by delaying it, a time will come to remove the detonator,” he added, reported the South China Morning Post Saturday.
Wang Hongguang, former deputy commander of the Nanjing Military Region, an important military region, warned that a war could begin as soon as March, when South Korea and the United States are slated to hold annual military drills. “It is a highly dangerous period,” Wang said during the conference. “Northeast China should mobilize defenses for war.”
Chinese officials have sought to improve relations with North Korea amid unusually high tensions between Pyongyang and world leaders over the reclusive nation’s growing nuclear program. But local governments in China have also taken precautions to prepare for conflict in case various diplomatic gestures do not succeed. Earlier this month, a government newspaper in China’s northeastern province of Jilin on the North Korean border published a full-page article advising residents on how to survive a nuclear attack, Quartz reported.
“It’s natural that Jilin province is more sensitive to the situation on the Korean peninsula, given its special geographic location. It’s necessary for the provincial paper to publish information on nuclear weapons,” wrote state tabloid Global Times in an editorial.
As its largest trading partner and main source of food, China is North Korea’s most significant ally. It has recently embraced new U.N. sanctions against North Korea while also calling for dialogue. U.S. officials, however, have urged China to do more to temper its neighbor’s global threats and nuclear ambitions, Politico has reported.
“Each U.N. member state must fully implement all existing U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday in remarks at the United Nations Security Council. “For those nations who have not done so, or who have been slow to enforce Security Council resolutions, your hesitation calls into questions whether your vote is a commitment to words only, but not actions. For countries who have not taken action, I urge you to consider your interest, your allegiances and your values in the face of this grave and global threat.”