According to Chosun, a Korean news agency, the People’s Republic of China has moved an estimated 150,000 troops to the border of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (a.k.a. North Korea) in order to prepare for “unforeseen circumstances.”
Among such unforeseen circumstances? The possibility of “military action” by the United States.In the past, China has deployed troops to its border with North Korea in order to prevent refugees from entering China from North Korea. Is this what is going on, or is China preparing to seize North Korea should the United States do something to eliminate the current regime there? I can't see China allowing North Korea to fall into South Korea's (that is, Western) hands, so my guess is that they would want to rush troops into North Korea to install a puppet government to preserve the buffer between South Korea and China, and prevent an influx of North Korean refugees. In fact, such a maneuver would probably force refugees south into South Korea, which would further benefit China by causing chaos at the border between the two Koreas.
Those of you that remember German reunification may remember what an economic drag absorbing East Germany became because of the poor and obsolete infrastructure, pollution, and relatively lower skills of the workers. Trying to absorb North Korea will be a whole magnitude worse on whichever country claims it.
Update: Looking at the Chosun news report, it indicates that China has activated submarine units and the 16th, 23, 39, and 40th group troops in the North Korean border area. According to the article, "[t]he 39th group is a heavy army mechanized unit and the 40th group is [a] rapid reaction group."
2nd Update: "China 'deploys 150,000 troops to deal with possible North Korean refugees over fears Trump may strike Kim Jong-un following missile attack on Syria'"--Daily Mail. It reports:
China's top nuclear envoy arrived in Seoul Monday for talks on the North Korean threat, as the United States sent the naval strike group to the region and signalled it may act to shut down Pyongyang's weapons program.
Speculation of an imminent nuclear test is brewing as the North marks major anniversaries including the 105th birthday of its founding leader on Saturday - sometimes celebrated with a demonstration of military might.
Wu Dawei, China's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs, met with his South Korean counterpart on Monday to discuss the nuclear issue.
The talks come shortly after Trump hosted Chinese leader Xi Jinping for a summit at which he pressed Pyongyang's key ally to do more to curb the North's nuclear ambitions.
'(We) are prepared to chart our own course if this is something China is just unable to coordinate with us,' US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said after the summit.
He added however that Beijing had indicated a willingness to act on the issue.
'We need to allow them time to take actions,' Tillerson said, adding that Washington had no intention of attempting to remove the regime of Kim Jong-Un.
(H/t Vox Popoli, who suggests that China may act in concert with the U.S.).