TAIPEI, KYODO - North Korea is seen as the No. 2 threat to China after the United States, according to a recent document written by strategists with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and seen by Kyodo News.
It shows that despite the two neighboring countries’ traditionally friendly diplomatic ties, North Korea is seen, from a military perspective, as a threat in view of its nuclear arms and missile programs.
The document, issued in May 2016, is a wartime exercise guideline for designed to prepare in the event of threats from hypothetical enemies.
In their analysis of the situation facing China, the strategists cite “five potential threats,” the foremost of them being the United States and its “rebalance” to Asia.
Mentioned second is North Korea, which they note has declared itself to be a nuclear power and has established many atomic facilities near its border with China.
If war again breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, the document says, this would pose a “huge threat” to the northern and northeast parts of China.
Japan was No. 3 on the list, with the strategists citing the two countries’ row over the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The tiny islets are also claimed by China, where they are known as the Diaoyus.
With aircraft and ships from the two countries coming and going through the area, there is a definite risk of military conflict, they suggest.
In the fourth slot is the contested South China Sea, where the claims of China and other countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines, overlap.
While noting that China is expanding its military reach in that area, including by deploying air defense radar on man-made islands it occupies, China can only effectively control some parts, so China “cannot be optimistic.”
India, which has border disputes with China and is also building up its military forces, is mentioned next.
According to the strategists, India’s appetite for territorial expansion is increasing as its national strength surges, even as its economic cooperation with China grows.