SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Chinese regional experts have warned that an outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula looks likelier than ever, despite Seoul and Beijing's agreement last week that such a conflict cannot be tolerated.
Chinese daily Global Times quoted Shi Yinhong, Professor of Renmin University, who said, "The possibility of war breaking out on the Korean peninsula has become the highest in several decades," pointing to the "vicious cycle of threats" between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Shi said that that China can only delay an all-out clash between them as it is too late to turn the situation around. "China only delay war, hoping that the detonator of the time bomb that is North Korea can be removed," he said.
Wang Hongguang, former Deputy Commander of the Nanjing Military Region suggested war could occur much earlier than expected, Chosun Ilbo reported.
"It could break out tonight. It may come before March next year when South Korea and the United States begin their annual military exercise," he said.
Wang cited a local newspaper article that provided a guideline for Chinese citizens in case of a nuclear explosion, saying this was "a signal conveyed to the North telling it to prepare for the coming war."
Putting aside the timing, Professor of Nanjing University Zhu Feng believes Beijing must brace itself for war.
As tensions continue to escalate in the region, a "soft-landing" solution is impossible, he said, adding that "China must prepare psychologically and practically for a nuclear conflict, a radioactive fallout and an atomic explosion."
Last week, the Chinese navy began conducting a four-day live-fire exercise off North Korean waters while the air force held simulated anti-missile drills with Russia, South China Morning Post reported.
The joint exercise was aimed at repelling ballistic and cruise missile threats in the region, according to Beijing's defense ministry.