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China Raises Concerns about Rising Tensions on Korean Peninsula

Dec. 5, 2017 (EIRNS)—China is so concerned about the rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula aggravated by the U.S.-South Korean Vigilant Ace air exercise that the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force is running its own drills over the waters of the Yellow and East Seas. A Chinese military expert told Britain’s Daily Telegraph that the Chinese drills are "a defiant warning" to Washington and Seoul that it will uphold a "balance of power." Chinese Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke announced China’s drills on social media on Dec. 4, saying that military aircraft "arrived in air lanes and regions that we have never been to before." There were no details on when the drills took place, but Chen said the maneuvers involved "fighter jets, early warning aircraft and surface-to-air missile forces."

The Chinese government also made clear China’s unease about the U.S.-South Korean exercise.

"The situation on the Korean Peninsula is highly sensitive. We hope all relevant parties take more actions that would help ease tensions and refrain from provoking each other,"

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesperson Geng Shuang said in Dec. 4 media briefing, reported the Korea Herald.

In Pyongyang, the rhetoric has reached high levels of shrillness. A commentary carried by state-run KCNA said Washington and Seoul are

"hell-bent on the exercises simulating an all-out war against the D.P.R.K., including drills to strike the state leadership and nuclear and ballistic rocket bases, air fields, naval bases and other major objects of the D.P.R.K. and its command posts of front line units, armored equipment and personnel and long-range artillery units.

"Particularly, the U.S. imperialists are staging an ultra-precision strike drill with high intensity just like in a real war focused on ’removing’ the D.P.R.K.’s state leadership and core facilities by massively introducing the ultramodern stealth fighters,"

said the KCNA commentary.

"Owing to the U.S. imperialist warmongers’ extremely reckless war hysteria, a grave situation is prevailing in the Korean Peninsula that a nuclear war may break out any moment,"

it added, after claiming that Washington has already issued orders for a simultaneous strike on at least 700 major military targets of the D.P.R.K. It’s not likely that such an order has actually been issued, but the KCNA description of the Vigilant Ace exercise is coherent with what has been reported in the U.S. and South Korean news media. Nikkei Asian Review reports that the two air forces will likely show off preemptive strike capabilities by rehearsing responses to a hypothetical detection of a missile launch, such as infiltrating North Korean airspace and destroying mobile launchpads or bombarding troop concentrations deployed at the militarized border.

Nikkei says that in addition to the U.S.-South Korean exercise, U.S. forces also conducted an exercise with Japanese air force, though on a much smaller scale, four aircraft from each side.