China says it is sending about 200,000 troops into a strategically important area on the border with South Korea to protect the South Korean and US military installations.
A senior military source said on Friday that the Chinese troops were deployed in an area that has become a hotbed of tension between the two nations, the Dongcheng region in the South China Sea.
“They are here to defend the installations of the US and the South Korea military,” the source told AFP news agency.
The source said China was deploying more than 1,000 soldiers in the Donggye region, which is on the eastern bank of the Yellow Sea, as well as around 400 troops in another part of the area.
The military source also said that the deployment was part of a broader strategy to defend South Korea, and the US.
It comes as South Korea’s Defence Minister Kim Young-joon warned that the South may face a “huge crisis” if the US continues to pursue its plans to deploy an anti-missile system in the country.
“We are not ready to allow the US to deploy a ballistic missile defence system in South Korea.
We are ready to use force if necessary,” Kim said on Saturday.”
It’s a very serious situation and we need to take strong measures to prevent that,” he said.
On Thursday, US President Donald Trump called North Korea a “country that has not lived up to its promises”.
“They have not lived within the rules of the game,” Trump said at the White House, adding that he did not believe Pyongyang had “a very good relationship” with the US, according to a transcript released by the White, House.
“I think we’re going to be going after North Korea.
They have not had a very good, well, I mean, a very, very bad relationship with the United States,” Trump added.
Trump has made no secret of his frustration with North Korea’s defiant actions, calling it “reckless and unhelpful” and calling the regime’s leader Kim Jong-un “short-sighted” for “chasing a nuclear weapon”.
But Kim has dismissed any US military presence in the region.
“North Korea is a rogue nation,” Kim told a Sunday news conference in Seoul, according, to South Korea-based news outlet Yonhap news agency, adding: “The US must not come here and tell us that we are allowed to go in and destroy them.”
The Trump administration has faced criticism for its policy towards North Korea, which has long threatened to use its nuclear weapons arsenal against the US if it does not give up its nuclear ambitions.
In the latest sign that Washington could face increased pressure to curb North Korea by Beijing, the UN Security Council passed a resolution that would have imposed economic sanctions on Pyongyang.US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a news conference on Friday the US will not “endure any more North Korean regime abuse”.
“We’re going after this regime, this regime is a threat to our national security, it’s a threat not only to the United Nations, but to the world,” Tillerson said.
The US and China have been engaged in a long-running dispute over China’s ownership of large swathes of the South and East China Seas, which both claim sovereignty over the strategically important waterways.
Last week, North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could reach the US mainland, a move that the US responded by deploying a missile defence shield in South Carolina.