China won’t come to North Korea’s help if it launches missiles threatening U.S. soil and there is retaliation, a state-owned newspaper warned on Friday, but it would intervene if Washington strikes first.
The Global Times newspaper is not an official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, but in this case, its editorial probably does reflect government policy and can be considered “semi-official,” experts said.
China has repeatedly warned both Washington and Pyongyang not to do anything that raises tensions or causes instability on the Korean Peninsula and strongly reiterated that suggestion Friday.
“The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complicated and sensitive,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.
“China hopes that all relevant parties will be cautious in their words and actions, and do things that help to alleviate tensions and enhance mutual
trust, rather than walk on the old pathway of taking turns in shows of strength, and upgrading the tensions.” In an Editorial, The Global Times said China should make it clear to both sides: “when their actions jeopardize China's interests, China will respond with a firm hand.”
“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral,”
it added. “If the U.S. 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.” The Global Times paper said both sides were engaging in a “reckless game” that runs the risk of descending into a real war.
On Tuesday, President Trump threatened to respond to further threats from North Korea by unleashing “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Pyongyang, in turn, threatened to strike the U.S. territory of Guam in the Western Pacific with ballistic missiles.
The Pentagon has prepared plans for B-1B strategic bombers to make preemptive strikes on the North Korea's missile sites, and a strongly worded ultimatum from the Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis that North Korea should not consider “actions that would lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people.” China does not want to see a unified Korean state allied to the United States right up against its border: indeed, hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers died during the 1950-53 Korean War to prevent that happening.
In the Meanwhile, China has reacted strongly to the United States sending a warship close to an island it controls in the South China Sea.