Tensions close to breaking point and a conflict could break out at any moment.
- US aircraft carrier group steamed towards the region
- North may conduct a sixth nuclear weapons test
- Tensions getting close to breaking point
- Conflict could break out any moment
- Air China suspending flights to Pyongyang
- Massive Day of the Sun celebration
China said on Friday that tension over North Korea had to be stopped from reaching an “irreversible and unmanageable stage” as a US aircraft carrier group steamed towards the region amid fears the North may conduct a sixth nuclear weapons test.
According to Beijing, the tensions were getting close to breaking point. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, “One has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment.”
“Once the war breaks out, everybody will end up as a loser, and there will be no winners,” he added, in urging for all parties to refrain from provocation and threats, and to show restraint. “On the Korean Peninsula issue, it is not those who use harsher words or raise bigger fists would win.”
On Friday, the North Korean military threatened to unleash a “merciless” response against American targets, including the naval task force the US deployed. President Trump had diverted the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its strike group toward the Korean peninsula last weekend in a show of force.
“The army and people of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) will as ever courageously counter those who encroach upon the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK and will always mercilessly ravage all provocative options of the US with Korean-style toughest counteraction.”
North Korea, still technically at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty, often threatens the United States, South Korea and Japan.
On the US side, it has warned that a policy of “strategic patience” is over and Trump has put North Korea on notice that he will not tolerate any more provocation. US officials have said Trump’s administration is focusing its strategy on tougher economic sanctions.
Trump has been pressing China to do more to rein in North Korea. He said the US is prepared to tackle the crisis without China, if necessary.
China banned all imports of North Korean coal on Feb 26 under UN sanctions, cutting off the North’s most important export, and on Friday, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said national airline Air China was suspending flights to Pyongyang.
Meanwhile, North Korea celebrates the Day of the Sun, the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung – the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un – today, with a massive military parade featuring what appears to be new long-range and submarine-based missiles, thousands of soldiers marching through the capital, colourful performances and fireworks.