South Korea on heightened alert as North readies for army celebration

"It is a situation where a lot of exercise equipment is amassed in North Korea and also a lot of strategic assets are situated on the Korean peninsula because of the South Korea-U.S. military drills", Lee told a briefing.

On Thursday, Trump praised Chinese efforts to rein in "the menace of North Korea", after North Korean state media warned the United States of a "super-mighty preemptive strike".

On Thursday, Reuters news agency reported on an increased level of activity of Chinese bombers, citing usa officials who wished to remain anonymous and did not specify the reason for the activity. Given those close economic links, U.S. military officials have said that Beijing is critical to solving the North Korean situation. The US and Pyongyang have ratcheted up their rhetoric, with the latter's state media warning Thursday that a pre-emptive strike by North Korea would result in the US and South Korea being "completely destroyed in an instant".

"Throughout the thousands of years of relations, Korea has never been part of China, and this is a historical fact that is recognized internationally and something no one can deny", Cho June-hyuck, a South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said Friday, according to the Associated Press. South Koreans have largely welcomed Trump's hardline stance on North Korea, but some have expressed frustration over his public gaffes.

Officials move a sign of Donald Trump after a U.S. Election Watch event hosted by the U.S. Embassy at a hotel in Seoul, South Korea, November 9, 2016.

North Korea is a significant supplier of coal to China, especially of the type used for steel making, known as coking coal. None of the United States officials who told Reuters about the heightened level of activity by Chinese bombers suggested alarm or signalled that they knew the precise reason for such activity.

The Korean peninsula has been witnessing escalating tensions amid Pyongyang's missile activity and nuclear tests conducted in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. "This represents a general direction that we believe is correct and should be adhered to", Lu said. "We feel very gratified about this".

The Chinese official also praised recent USA statements about "using whatever peaceful means possible to resolve the (Korean) Peninsula nuclear issue".

"Beijing has demonstrated due enthusiasm for Washington's newfound interest in a diplomatic solution and willingness to work more closely with it", the state-run China Daily said in an editorial.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests since the early 2000s, all of which have been roundly condemned by China. It blew up nearly immediately.

  • Leroy Wright