Chinese guard at the country’s border with North Korea
WASHINGTON – While representatives from communist North Korea and South Korea have come to an agreement to ease tensions, the Chinese have moved a mechanized brigade to their border with North Korea.
With world attention focused on the stock-market slide prompted by China, the People’s Liberation Army is indicating its concern about the uptick in war jitters on the Korean Peninsula.
East Asian expert J.H. Ahn reports in the Washington, D.C.-based website NK News that there are “significant” military movements of a brigade-size mechanical unit consisting of PTZ-89 tank destroyers in the city of Yanji, China, an autonomous region of Yanbian bordering North Korea.
A Defense Department source told WND on condition of anonymity that Beijing no longer wields the control it once had on the North Korean leadership.
“Kim is doing what he can to take control of his military and that includes his military-to-military relations with China,” he said, referring to North Korea’s Supreme leader, 32-year-old Kim Jung-un.
The concern was punctuated recently when Kim ordered the purge and possible execution first of his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, and then a rising star in the North Korean People’s Army, Gen. Pyon In-son.
Jang, who was Kim’s second-in-command, was a primary intermediary with China. Pyon, who recently was “killed for expressing an opinion different to that of Kim,” represented North Korea in military-to-military talks with China.
Pyon was a swift riser through KPA ranks, achieving a four-star rank, according to the source. He not only was a member of the party Central Committee but was a vice minister of the People’s Armed Forces.
The two leaders’ demise reflects a greater purge of more than 50 high-ranking military officials that Kim has conducted over the past year in an effort to consolidate his power, including control of ties with China, which has frustrated the Chinese leadership.
‘Lips and teeth’
The relationship between Beijing and Pyongyang was once described by the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong as “lips and teeth.” Chinese troops in 1950 descended on U.S. troops at the Yalu River once they had crossed the now infamous 38th parallel.
East Asian sources say that since Kim came to power almost four years ago, relations with China have become increasingly estranged.
To this day, Kim hasn’t visited Beijing.
Relations began to wane during the regime of Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il when China and South Korea established diplomatic relations. Nevertheless, the two nations continued to work together and maintained somewhat close ties.
Under Kim Jung-un, however, there has been a dramatic shift, the Defense source told WND.
He said that unlike past practice, China was absent from the discussions between representatives of North and South Korea at Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone separating the two countries.
He said Kim’s actions were meant to drive a barrier between Beijing and Seoul.
His view was reinforced by John Delury, a professor at Yonsei University in Seoul in a recent interview with Time magazine.
“Beijing has been noticeably, almost painfully, absent from the escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula in the last couple weeks,” Delury said. “Other than anodyne calls for everybody to exercise self-restraint, Beijing has had nothing to say or do to improve the situation.”
Still at war
Despite a truce in 1953, both North and South Korea are technically at war with each other.
The Defense source said China is very concerned about North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons. He said the last thing Beijing wants is a leader of a country with nuclear weapons over which it no longer has major influence.
He said Beijing has sought unsuccessfully to meet with Pyongyang in an effort to halt its nuclear weapons program. Because of the failed talks, he said China is growing impatient with Kim and may no longer want to be a buffer.
Until now, he said, Beijing has regarded itself as political, economic, military and diplomatic shield with the international community, especially from the United States.
In the past, China repeatedly has emphasized to the U.S. the need for talks with North Korea over the numerous crises related to its development of nuclear weapons.
The turn of events were reflected in an Aug. 24 editorial of the Chinese Communist Party daily, Global Times, warning that North Korea may be trying to “strip China of its strength and geopolitical advantages.”
The editorial speculated that the North may have created the latest round of hostilities in an effort to keep South Korean President Park Geun-hye from visiting Beijing.
“Beijing will not be led by the nose,” the editorial added, “and there is no force on the Korean Peninsula that could easily maneuver China.”
Credit to WND
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2015/08/china-moves-mechanized-brigade-to-n-korean-border/#6bhdWTKPpEH0b8SP.99