China has warned that a fully-fledged war could break out any moment in the Korean peninsula given the volatile situation existing in the region. Beijing's Foreign Minister Wang Yi exhorted all the parties involved in the conflict to scale down both their rhetoric and action in order to bring stability to the region.
Wang was speaking against the backdrop of the US deploying its naval strike group in the Korean peninsula and Pyongyang's increasing provocative responses. While the hermit kingdom is thought to be in the final stages of conducting its sixth nuclear test, there is also speculation that Washington would not hesitate to use military force to quell North Korea's ambitious weapons programmes.
"Lately, tensions have risen... and one has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment. If a war occurs, the result is a situation in which everybody loses and there can be no winner," Wang said in a joint press conference in Beijing with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.
The top Chinese diplomat added that the side that provokes the conflict "must assume the historic responsibility and pay the corresponding price".
China, a key trading partner and a staunch geopolitical ally of North Korea, is becoming increasingly frustrated by North Korea's defiant actions. Though the neighbour has not fully abandoned Pyongyang, Beijing has significantly toned down its support for the North in global platforms and has also limited its trade ties with North Korea. These actions are bound to pinch the reclusive Kim Jong-un regime.
Wang's comments appeared shortly after North Korea's vice foreign minister accused the US of stoking tensions in the region. Following the remarks made by Han Song-ryol, the Chinese foreign minister insisted Beijing is closely monitoring the situation in the region and discouraged Pyongyang from carrying out any more aggressive acts.
North Korea is set to mark the 105<sup>th birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung – the founding leader of North Korea and grandfather of the current leader Kim Jong-un – on Saturday, 15 April known locally as the Day of Sun. On 25 April, the country will also commemorate the 85<sup>th anniversary of the founding of its army.
Pyongyang is known to either conduct massive military parades or carry out missile or nuclear tests to coincide with key anniversaries