World

There can be no winner 
if war breaks out: China

China warns against imminent war over US President's sabre-rattling on North Korea

BEIJING: A conflict over North Korea could break out "at any moment", China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said yesterday, warning there would be "no winner" in any war as tensions soar with the United States.

The sharp language came after US President Donald Trump said the North Korea problem "will be taken care of", as speculation mounts that the state could be preparing another nuclear or missile test.

"Lately, tensions have risen... and one has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment," Mr Wang said. "If a war occurs, the result is a situation in which everybody loses and there can be no winner."

Whichever side provokes a conflict "must assume the historic responsibility and pay the corresponding price", he said in a joint press conference with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Mr Trump has sent an aircraft carrier-led strike group to the Korean peninsula, one of a series of signals that indicates his willingness to shake up foreign policy strategy.

The US military on Thursday dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb it has on Afghanistan, targeting a complex used by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Mr Trump also flexed his military muscle last week by ordering cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base.

The moves are seen as an implicit warning to North Korea that Washington is not afraid to use force.

Mr Trump has repeatedly said he will prevent Pyongyang from its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of reaching mainland US.

A White House foreign policy adviser said yesterday that the US is assessing military options in response to North Korea's weapons programme.

There are reports of activity at a nuclear test site in North Korea, ahead of today's 105th anniversary of the birth of the country's founder Kim Il Sung, which have fuelled speculation it could carry out a sixth test.

But Beijing has long opposed dramatic action against Pyongyang, fearing the regime's collapse will send a flood of refugees across its borders and leave the US military on its doorstep.

"Dialogue is the only possible solution," Mr Wang said.

Any US strike on North Korea could prompt retaliation against allies or US forces in South Korea or Japan.

But there are few good diplomatic or economic options for the Trump administration. North Korea is already under UN sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Beijing, Pyongyang's sole major ally and economic lifeline, has also adopted a tougher line against its neighbour, including suspending coal imports from the country for the remainder of the year. - AFP

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