China is to conduct winter drills, Yanhan-2017, at the border with North Korea. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 30 (UPI) -- China's defense ministry ruled out a military option in dealing with the "North Korea problem" on Thursday, following Pyongyang's launch of what it claimed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian told reporters at a regular press briefing that winter weather exercises, Yanhan-2017, taking place in areas near the North Korea border, are not targeting North Korea, South Korean news service Newsis reported.
"The exercises are being conducted according to an annual plan," Wu said. "The exercises are not aimed at a particular country or party."
Beijing, however, rarely makes announcements about drills at the border, according to the South Korean press report.
Song Tao, a recent Chinese envoy to Pyongyang, was turned down for a meeting with leader Kim Jong Un, a North Korean move that may have not been well received in China.
South Korean experts on China-North Korea relations say China moves troops to the border when relations with the North deteriorates, Newsis reported.
A bridge linking the two countries may have also recently closed, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.
Frosty ties between Pyongyang and Beijing are taking a toll on relations between the Korean Workers' Party and the Chinese Communist Party, which recently concluded its 19th Party Congress.
South Korean newspaper Maeil Business reported Thursday that North Korea decided not to dispatch a delegation to the World Political Parties Dialogue scheduled to take place in Beijing from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3.
The high-level meeting is a new initiative for China.