August 27, 2015 / 10:03 AM / 5 years ago

China denies rushing forces to border during Korean tensions

A soldier stands guard at a sentry on the banks of the Yalu River, near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, November 15, 2014. REUTERS/Jacky Chen

BEIJING (Reuters) - China did not rush reinforcements to its border with North Korea following a rise in tensions between the two Koreas last week, China’s Defence Ministry said on Thursday, adding that its forces were in normal deployment.

Pictures circulated on Chinese websites over the weekend, which were picked up by some overseas Chinese newspapers, appeared to show the People’s Liberation Army bringing in additional tanks to Yanbian, a Chinese border city.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said those reports were “untrue and completely hyped up”.

“At present, the situation on the Chinese-North Korean border is generally stable, and Chinese border defense forces have all along maintained normal combat readiness and state of training,” he told a monthly news briefing, without elaborating.

North and South Korea agreed this week to end a military standoff that sparked an exchange of artillery fire and had ratcheted up tension on one of the world’s most heavily-fortified borders.

China is isolated North Korea’s biggest trade partner and only significant ally, but a series of nuclear tests by Pyongyang has deeply angered Beijing.

Ties have also been strained by murders along the border of Chinese citizens suspected to have been committed by North Korean defectors or army deserters.

The 521-km (324-mile) Tumen River that divides China and North Korea is a popular breakout route used by defectors fleeing the secretive state.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie

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