Military options won't resolve N. Korean crisis: China

South Korean F-15K combat planes (top left), a US Air Force B-1B bomber plane (centre right) and F-35B combat planes (bottom left) flying in the sky over South Korea while being on a bombing drill mission to hit simulated targets.
South Korean F-15K combat planes (top left), a US Air Force B-1B bomber plane (centre right) and F-35B combat planes (bottom left) flying in the sky over South Korea while being on a bombing drill mission to hit simulated targets. PHOTO: EPA

BEIJING • Threatening action or rhetoric cannot help resolve the situation on the Korean peninsula, China's Foreign Ministry said yesterday, after US Defence Secretary James Mattis hinted at the existence of military options on North Korea.

The North has repeatedly defied the United Nations to conduct nuclear and missile tests, the latest being a mid-range missile fired over Japan last Friday, soon after its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept 3.

Asked whether there were any military options the US could take with North Korea that would not put Seoul at grave risk, Mr Mattis said there were, but declined to give details.

"Developments in the peninsula nuclear issue up to this point prove that, no matter whether it is military threats in words or in action, they cannot promote and advance a resolution," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang.

"To the contrary, it just adds to tensions and makes achieving the goal of denuclearisation on the peninsula appear more complicated and difficult to resolve," he added, responding to a query about Mr Mattis' comments.

Seoul is within artillery range of North Korea, which is also believed to have a sizeable chemical and biological arsenal.

Any conflict on the Korean peninsula could lead to bloodshed unseen since the 1950-53 Korean War, in which millions of Koreans and over 50,000 Americans died. The war ended in an armed truce, not a peace treaty.

Military options available to the US range from non-lethal actions such as a naval blockade to enforce sanctions to waging cyber attacks and positioning new US weaponry in South Korea, where the US has 28,500 troops.

South Korea and the United States, and separately Russia together with China, started military drills on Monday, in a show of force against North Korea.

The Korean peninsula issue must be resolved peacefully, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed during a meeting with his Russian counterpart at the UN on Monday.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump have spoken by phone about keeping the pressure on North Korea through UN sanctions, the White House said.

Japan yesterday deployed another missile defence system - the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 - on its northern island of Hokkaido.

"As part of measures to prepare for emergencies, we will today deploy a PAC-3 unit" at the southern tip of Hokkaido, Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2017, with the headline 'Military options won't resolve N. Korean crisis: China'. Print Edition | Subscribe