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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Is China preparing for Korean war Troops urged to mobilize

China North Korea

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BEIJING, China - Anticipating a war on the Korean peninsula over the next few months, a former senior commander of China’s military has urged Beijing to mobilise its troops.

On Monday, The Global Times, the English-language outlet of the Beijing government mouthpiece People’s Daily China, quoted Lieutenant General Wang Gongguang as saying, “WAR on the Korean Peninsula might break out anytime between now and March next year.”

The senior former official in China’s military warned of the need to be “mentally prepared for it anytime.”

He said, “China should be psychologically prepared for a potential Korean War, and the Northeast China regions should be mobilised for that.”

He is also said to have urged the deployment of antimissile systems and troops in the border area with North Korea in anticipation of conflict between North and South Korea, including others like Japan and the United States.

General Gongguang warned that once war erupts, South Korea will be the most damaged, followed by China.

He added that there will be a huge risk of being exposed to nuclear contamination and earthquakes, adding, “Such mobilisation is not to launch a war, but for defensive purposes.”

The Global Times report also quoted military expert and TV commentator Song Zhongping as saying that there needed to be preparations for refugees and any ‘spillover’ of conflict.

Song said, “Defensive action could lead to engagement if US action on the Korean Peninsula threatens China’s core interests.”

Meanwhile, amid the intensifying threat from North Korea, South Korea’s foreign minister is now set to visit Japan this week to meet her Japanese counterpart.

Seoul and Tokyo are seeking to boost co-operation over the handling of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

According to reports, despite North Korea’s neighbors expressing urgency over the threat posed by the reclusive nation’s ballistic missile and nuclear tests, there is lingering tension over the issue of sexual slavery as seen during Japan’s wartime occupation of Korea.

On Tuesday, Kang Kyung-wha is set to arrive in Tokyo and meet Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono during her two-day visit.

The foreign ministry in Seoul said in a statement that this is her first trip to Japan as South Korea’s top diplomat.

The ministry said in a statement, “The two ministers will exchange views on issues of common interests focusing on bilateral relations and North Korea-related issues, including its nuclear program.”

The co-operation between South Korea and Japan comes at a time when both the nations feel threatened of a nuclear attack, seek to improve security co-operation over North Korea.

However, there have been conflicting signals over whether they can resolve a feud over “comfort women” who were forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels.

For years now, ties between the two country have been frozen over the issue, with South Korean President Moon Jae-in recently vowing to renegotiate an unpopular 2015 pact signed with Japan. As per that pact, Japan apologized again to former comfort women and promised 1 billion yen for a fund to help them. 

Further, both South Korea and Japan have stressed that the issue would be “irreversibly resolved” if both fulfilled their obligations.

Meanwhile, Seoul’s military said on Monday that South Korean fighter jets made an emergency sortie to escort five Chinese warplanes out of the Korean Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ).

The South Korean joint chiefs of staff identified two H-6 bombers, two J-11 fighter jets and one TU-154 reconnaissance plane entering the KADIZ on Monday morning, before flying out three and a half hours later.

The South Korean military said, “Our fighter planes took normal tactical measures, identifying the models of the Chinese planes and flying aerial surveillance until they left. We talked with the Chinese side over a hotline and it said the operation was part of a routine exercise. We are analyzing its exact intention."

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