China: October 28, 2004

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In September and October China deployed up to 150,000 troops (five divisions) in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, bordering North Korea, to deter Pyongyangs nuclear build-up and to stifle mounting violence from rogue (and likely starving) North Korean soldiers. Large troop movements and new military barracks reportedly have also been seen in bordering towns. There has also been a marked increase in Chinese PLA Air Force flights in the area. The troops were being deployed in part to help stem the flow of North Korean refugees fleeing to China to escape famine and poverty. To make matters worse, other growing problems involve alleged atrocities committed by North Korean soldiers against ethnic Koreans, and Chinas two year effort repatriate illegal North Koreans in China. Hungry, poorly disciplined North Korean soldiers have reportedly been crossing into China in large numbers and causing trouble at the local level. True to form, Chinas foreign ministry has refused to confirm or deny the deployment of PLA troops to the area.

An August meeting in Beijing among the US, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia failed to solve the impasse over Pyongyangs suspected nuclear weapons programs. The issue of nuclear weapons proliferation among rogue nations and terrorists remains one of the worlds most pressing, with little likelihood of successful resolution in the foreseeable future. Recently, North Koreas Dear Leader Kim Jong Il was quoted as saying that a world without North Korea should be blown up. K.B. Sherman

 

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