China and Russia Train for War With U.S. if Trump Invades North Korea

China and Russia may be devising a plan to attack U.S. forces in the event of an imminent war breaking out on the neighboring Korean Peninsula, according to two former military officials.

Lieutenant General Wang Hongguang, the former deputy commander of the western Nanjing Military Region, warned “the war on the Korean Peninsula might break out anytime between now and March next year”; his comments came during a conference hosted Saturday by ruling Communist Party newspaper The Global Times. The following day, the nationalist outlet expanded on the retired general’s remarks with insight from Chinese military expert, commentator and author Song Zhongping, who said China could potentially engage U.S. forces if they posed a threat.

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“China should be psychologically prepared for a potential Korean war, and the Northeast China regions should be mobilized for that,” Wang said Saturday, according to The Global Times. “Such mobilization is not to launch a war, but for defensive purposes.”

Song, himself a former member of the Chinese military’s Second Artillery Corps, which was later transformed into the Rocket Force, told The Global Times on Sunday that such “defensive purposes” would likely include contingency plans to retaliate against any breach of Chinese sovereignty by invading U.S. forces.

ChinaMilitaryDrill2 Soldiers assigned to an air assault brigade of the 83rd Group Army under the People’s Liberation Army Central Theater Command drive “leopard cat” all-terrain assault vehicles to engage in combat with simulated enemies under fire support by helicopters during an assault, capture and control training exercise at a field training ground in the hinterland of China’s Taihang mountains on December 16, 2017. China Military Online/Feng Yu

In a separate interview, Song also said that high-tech anti-missile drills held that same day by China and Russia in Beijing were actually a joint effort by the U.S.’s two leading military competitors to defend against a potential attack order by President Donald Trump, who has increasingly feuded with North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un since taking office in January. Both China and Russia have joined the U.S. in condemning North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic weapons arsenal, which the country argued was necessary to defend against a U.S. attempt to overthrow Kim, but Beijing and Moscow have staunchly opposed an expansionist U.S. military in the Asia-Pacific.

“The main target of the joint drills between China and Russia is the U.S., which has both ballistic and cruise missiles that could pose a real threat to both Beijing and Moscow,” Song told South China Morning Post on Sunday.

“Both China and Russia wanted to use these joint anti-missile drills for strategic deterrence. They want to push the U.S. to withdraw its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) from the Korean peninsula,” he added.

The U.S’s THAAD anti-missile system became fully operational in South Korea earlier this year. The Pentagon has argued such missile defense is necessary to shield the U.S. ally from a potential missile attack by its northern rival, but China and Russia have criticized the apparatus for apparently undermining their own national security. As Trump’s stance toward North Korea grew more militant, the U.S. leader has sent more military assets to and has conducted more drills in the tense region, further infuriating China and Russia.

RTX3LKDS Chinese armed police and Russian national guards take part in a joint counterterrorism drill in Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, in China, on December 5, 2017. The leading military competitors to the U.S. have been growing closer in recent years and seek to limit Washington’s influence abroad. Stringer/Reuters

China and Russia previously backed North Korea when the newly established Communist state went to war with South Korea, supported by the U.S. and U.N., in the early 1950s. The three-year battle, widely seen as the first clash of the Cold War, ended with an armistice establishing a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) roughly along the prewar border, but no peace between the warring neighbors.

While Kim continued to expand his U.N.-sanctioned arsenal inherited by his father and grandfather, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin have both undergone their own historic initiatives to expand their military and political power across the globe. In Trump’s “America First” national security strategy announced Monday, he denounced Kim’s nuclear-armed “rogue regime,” as well as China and Russia’s attempts to “challenge American power, influence and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.”