China has moved 150,000 troops and medical supplies to its North Korean border fearing a refugee crisis in the event of US airstrike, it has been claimed.
Donald Trump’s decision to launch missiles into Syria last week in retaliation for President Assad’s gas attack caused widespread alarm in China, it is believed.
Japan’s daily newspaper Sankei said it was taken in China as “warning” of a possible attack on North Korea.
Trump and his team met with China’s President Xi last week and North Korea’s nuclear programme was top of the agenda alongside trade.
But it remains a highly sensitive topc in China, and according to Sankei, China’s state news service Xinhua made no mention of North Korea whatsoever in its report on the talks.
But over the weekend, reports spread via Chinese social media that medical supplies and support troops were being sent to the border of North Korea.
One picture shared widely online claimed to show a line of military trains moving around Shenyang, a city just over 200 miles from the North Korean border.
Submarine fleets have also been sent to the area, it was reported.
It was estimated that around 150,000 Chinese troops have been mobilised in anticipation of North Korean refugees fleeing the country in the event of an American airstrike.
Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster said his Commander-in-Chief has made the order as a U.S. carrier strike group heads for the region.
It is believed that among the options are combined special forces raids and pre-emptive missile strikes.
One of the problems facing an American-led operation to hit Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong-Un is the intricate tunnel network under the capital.
War-planners have had difficulty mapping out the subterranean complex and believe there are hundreds of underground artillery and airplane sites.
McMaster described the decision to redeploy the USS Carl Vinson to the Sea of Japan as ‘prudent’ given North Korea’s ‘pattern of provocative behavior.’
Speaking to Fox News, McMaster said: “It’s prudent to do it, isn’t it?
“Presidents before and President Trump agreed that that is unacceptable, that what must happen is the denuclearization of the peninsula.
“The president has asked [us] to be prepared to give us a full range of options to remove that threat.”
The news comes after Trump launched cruise missiles against Assad in Syria last week, the first time the US has directly targeted the regime during the conflict.
North Korea denounced Trump’s attack as an act of ‘intolerable aggression’ and one that justified ‘a million times over’ its push toward a nuclear deterrent.
By Steve Robson