Tuesday's HOT MIC
Is China preparing for war in North Korea? The Wall Street Journal reports that the Chinese military has repositioned some of its military forces, modernized others, and altered its posture along its border with North Korea.
A review of official military and government websites and interviews with experts who have studied the preparations show that Beijing has implemented many of the changes in recent months after initiating them last year.
They coincide with repeated warnings by U.S. President Donald Trump that he is weighing military action to halt North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, while exerting pressure on China to do more to rein in Pyongyang.
Recent Chinese measures include establishing a new border defense brigade, 24-hour video surveillance of the mountainous frontier backed by aerial drones, and bunkers to protect against nuclear and chemical blasts, according to the websites.
China’s military has also merged, moved and modernized other units in border regions and released details of recent drills there with special forces, airborne troops and other units that experts say could be sent into North Korea in a crisis. They include a live-fire drill in June by helicopter gunships and one in July by an armored infantry unit recently transferred from eastern China and equipped with new weaponry.
China’s Defense Ministry didn’t respond directly when asked if the recent changes were connected to North Korea, saying only in a written statement that its forces “maintain a normal state of combat readiness and training” on the border. It has denied previous reports of thousands of extra Chinese troops moving into border areas.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Monday said: “Military means shouldn’t be an option to solve the Korean Peninsula issue.”
Chinese authorities have nonetheless been preparing for North Korean contingencies, including economic collapse, nuclear contamination, or military conflict, according to U.S. and Chinese experts who have studied Beijing’s planning.
China’s recent changes in force structure, equipment and training are connected to nationwide military reforms launched last year to overhaul Soviet-modeled command structures and prepare better for combat beyond China’s borders, those experts say.
In the northeast, however, those reforms are geared predominantly toward handling a North Korean crisis, the experts say.
Perhaps the most likely scenario that would give China a lot of trouble is a predicted famine in North Korea. There's a severe drought in the rice growing regions of North Korea and the UN reported it's the worst in 16 years. The famine in the late 1990s killed an estimated two million people.
Drought is surely a contributing factor to any famine. But ridiculous agricultural policies don't help. Coupled with massive spending on their nuclear and ICBM programs, this is a recipe for a human catastrophe.
Would China assist North Korea if the US attacked? As a client state on their border, the Chinese could ill afford to lose them as an ally. I would expect any military confrontation with the North to include going to war against China.