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China deploys 150,000 troops on North Korean border
Epoch Times

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HONG KONG - Hong Kong's Sunday Morning Post cited an unidentified security source in China as saying five divisions of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), roughly 150,000 troops, had been deployed in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, bordering North Korea, since last month.

Large troop movements and new military barracks have also been seen in the border towns of Hanchun, Tumen, Kaishan, Sanhe and Baijing, while air force jets have frequently been seen flying over the capital Yanji, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the border, the report said.

The source said troops were in the area to help stem the flow of North Korean refugees fleeing to China to escape a long famine and recession in the hermitic state.

China's foreign ministry last week refused to confirm or deny the deployment of PLA troops to the area.

"I have not heard any information on the deployment of troops along the border with the DPRK (North Korea) by China as you mentioned," ministry spokesman Kong Quan told a routine briefing Tuesday.

Hong Kong's Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily has earlier reported that three PLA units -- each with 50,000 troops and including armoured divisions -- had been deployed along China's 1,400-kilometre border with North Korea.

The paper quoted a Chinese foreign ministry source as saying that the move had been aimed at deterring North Korea from continuing its nuclear build-up and to pressure Pyongyang into holding talks on the nuclear crisis with the United States.

Top negotiators from the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia met in Beijing in late August to discuss the 11-month crisis over Pyongyang's suspected nuclear weapons programmes. The meeting made little headway, but more talks are expected.

The Sunday Morning Post said that while the mobilization of PLA troops was seen as a strategic move, residents of Yanbian prefecture also believed they were there to halt a growing number of violent crimes allegedly carried out by North Korean soldiers.

Yanbian police said the violence began two years ago after Beijing launched a campaign to repatriate illegal North Koreans in the country, according to the report.

Atrocities allegedly involving North Korean soldiers include the murder of three ethnic Korean villagers in June last year and an incident on January 23 when a North Korean opened fire on Banshi village residents with an assault rifle before fleeing across the border, the report said.

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