The Chinese air force reportedly put its land-attack, cruise-missile-capable bombers "on high alert" on Wednesday (19 April) amid escalating tensions in the Korean peninsula. The move is seen as Beijing's preparation for a possible armed conflict between the US and its allies, and North Korea.
The South Korean military also reportedly put its forces on combat readiness as tensions have escalated in the region. China had recently cautioned that a war could break out any moment, given the continuous provocations from both Washington and Pyongyang.
The warning from China came as the Donald Trump administration hinted at military retaliation similar to the recent missile attacks on Syria against chemical attacks allegedly carried out by President Bashar al-Assad government. However, a North Korean state media recently warned that "the US will be reduced to ashes" if it strikes the country.
A US defense official told CNN News on Thursday (20 April) that in addition to putting its bombers on high alert, the Chinese military has also intensified maintenance of its aircrafts, apparently to bring them to full readiness. These measures appear to be the Chinese military's effort to "reduce the time to react to a North Korea contingency," the official reportedly said.
Meanwhile, some senior White House officials have told the news channel that the Trump administration is focusing on China as part of its North Korea policy.
"Nobody thinks the Chinese are going to press North Korea militarily or bring the regime to its knees, but the strategy looks to China to find a political solution more than anything else," one senior administration official explained.
According to the officials, Trump's approach is based on review of strategies adopted by the previous US administrations to contain North Korea. The analysis showed that "China has never exerted maximum leverage on the Kim regime."
The reason for China not pressurizing the Kim regime could be the vast trade benefits, given that an estimated 85% of North Korea's economic trade is dependent on China, CNN wrote.
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