China will take ‘necessary steps’ for security if North Korean regime collapses
Defence spokesman Ren Guoqiang affirms military will safeguard security and sovereignty
China will take the “necessary measures” to safeguard national security in the event of the collapse of the neighbouring North Korean regime, a defence official said on Thursday.
The recent assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam has sparked renewed concerns over the stability of Pyongyang and the possibility of a collapse of the reclusive regime.
Beijing – long seen as the guarantor of Pyongyang’s security – has stayed largely silent on the incident.
But in a sign of its growing frustration with Pyongyang and as part of efforts to increase pressure on the regime over its latest missile test earlier this month, China announced last week it would suspend all imports of coal from North Korea for the rest of the year, depriving the country of a crucial source of foreign capital.
Asked whether China had a contingency plan for a North Korean collapse, defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said Beijing has maintained its usual policy towards Pyongyang, and urged the “relevant parties to refrain from any actions that will escalate tensions”.
“We are resolute in safeguarding the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula, sticking to the objective of denuclearization and to resolving disputes through dialogue and consultation,”Ren said on Thursday.
“The Chinese military will take the necessary measures, according to the need that arises in the security environment, to safeguard national security and sovereignty,” he said.
Ren denied recent reports that China had sent troops to the border between China and North Korea after Kim Jong-nam’s death to prevent potential large-scale refugee crossings.
Beijing has often been criticised by US President Donald Trump for not doing enough to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear development.
The latest missile test has reaffirmed South Korea’s resolve to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD), a US-developed anti-ballistic missile system, following North Korea’s fourth nuclear test in January last year.
South Korea’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, said on Monday the deployment could not be delayed in the face of the growing nuclear missile threat from the North, despite Beijing’s hostility to the move, Reuters reported.
Beijing has strongly protested deployment of THAAD, arguing that the system is not targeted to prevent an attack from North Korea, but could be used to spy on Chinese missile flight tests.
Ren at the defence ministry yesterday reiterated China’s opposition to THAAD, saying China would “take all necessary measures to safeguard its national security and sovereignty”.