Following the warning, China, North Korea’s most important ally, immediately told its citizens living in North Korea to return home over fears that tensions between the U.S. and North Korea could escalate and trigger a U.S. attack on North Korea.
A Korean-Chinese citizen living in Pyongyang told Radio Free Asia that he had been visiting China every two to three months but after the Chinese Embassy in North Korea advised him to “stay in China for a while,” he left North Korea a month early. “The embassy has never given such a warning. I was worried and left the country in a hurry.”
In response to North Korea’s claims that the reckless U.S. military provocation is pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula closer to the brink of nuclear war, China called the situation highly complex and sensitive, and urged all sides to “stop irritating” each other. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told Reuters:
“The urgent task is to lower temperatures and resume talks. We again urge all relevant parties to remain calm and exercise restraint, stop irritating each other, work hard to create an atmosphere for contact and dialogue between all sides, and seek a return to the correct path of dialogue and negotiation as soon as possible.”
Will China sacrifice its relations with the U.S. and South Korea for North Korea? Will North Korea turn on its only ally? Will China support North Korea if war broke out? Will North Korea honor the mutual defense pact signed with China under Communist leader Mao Zedong?