‘CHINA SHOULD STAY NEUTRAL IF NORTH KOREA FIRES FIRST’
Comments on state-run China daily come amid Trump’s step up in rhetoric
BEIJING and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral,” the Global Times, which is widely read but does not represent government policy, said in an editorial.
“If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”
China’s Foreign Ministry reiterated a call for all parties to speak and act cautiously and do more to ease the situation, rather than going down the “old path” of exchanges of shows of force and continually rising tension.
North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency said on Thursday its army would complete plans in mid-August to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near Guam.
Trump said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was not going to get away with his “horrific” comments and disrespecting the US.
“Let’s see what he does with Guam. He does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody’s seen before, what will happen in North Korea,” Trump told reporters in New Jersey, without offering specifics.
Shortly after Trump spoke, US Defence Secretary James Mattis said the US still preferred a diplomatic approach to the North Korean threat and that a war would be “catastrophic”.
Asked if the United States was ready if North Korea made a hostile act, he said: “We are ready.”
Tension in the region has risen since the reclusive North staged two nuclear bomb tests last year and launched two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July in defiance of world powers. Trump had said he would not allow Pyongyang to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the US.
The threat from Pyongyang prompted South Korea to beef up its military muscle amid fears of a clash along the world’s most militarised border, its frontier with the North. Seoul was looking at building more powerful missiles and a nuclear-powered submarine, officials said.
The US and South Korea remain technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.
Experts said if North Korea did launch intermediate-range missiles towards Guam, all its other missiles and artillery would be ready for action. “We should be prepared too,” said Kim Dongyub, a military expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul.
Japan was also building up missile defences and considered the acquisition of munitions that would allow it to strike at North Korean missile sites. Reuters
Service personnel of the Ministry of People’s Security at a rally in support of North Korea’s stance against the United States, in Pyongyang on Thursday.