China's Defense Ministry has denied reports of troop deployment along the border with North Korea to respond to contingencies emerging from a potential US attack on the peninsula.
The ministry said on its website on Wednesday that reports of troop build-up along China’s northeastern border were “pure fabrication.” The statement would not elaborate on any other detail.
The statement came after South Korean media said on Monday that China had reportedly deployed 150,000 troops to the North Korean border in preparation for any attack by the US on the peninsula. Washington has dispatched an aircraft carrier to waters off the Korean Peninsula. The US and South Korea, the North’s main foe, have also stationed thousands of troops, tanks and other weaponry for their biggest-ever joint military exercises.
South Korean media have anticipated that US President Donald Trump could order a limited attack on Pyongyang after US warships in the Mediterranean fired dozens of missiles on a Syrian military base last week. They have suggested that the US under Trump would not hesitate to send the same message to North Korea as the country keeps testing new missiles in violation of United Nations resolutions.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a phone call with Trump on Tuesday night Washington time to clarify Beijing’s stance on the escalating conflict with North Korea. Xi said in the phone call that China wanted a peaceful solution to the dispute and called for calm. He assured Trump that China would continue to cooperate with the US on the denuclearization of North Korea.
“China insists on realizing the denuclearization of the peninsula, insists on maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula, and advocates resolving the problem through peaceful means,” Xi said, according to a brief description of the conversation on China’s Foreign Ministry website.
The phone call came days after Trump and Xi met in Florida. Trump tweeted after the meeting that China should do more to contain North Korea's threat, otherwise Washington would go it alone.