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BEIJING – Chinese experts see little immediate possibility of hostilities breaking out between the U.S. and North Korea, but say Beijing will respond harshly to any further North Korean nuclear tests.
Director of Jilin University's Institute of Northeast Asian Studies Gui Rui said Friday that President Donald Trump's domestic troubles should prevent him taking such action, while North Korea doesn't appear to be on a war footing.
"Although the tension in the Korean Peninsula is pretty high, it's not high to the point of having an imminent war," Gui told The Associated Press.
Another nuclear test would invite tougher measures from Beijing, possibly including new restrictions on Chinese companies' investments in North Korea and cuts in the number of Chinese tourists allowed to visit, Gui said.
Pang Zhongying of the School of International Studies at Beijing's Renmin University agreed that military action was unlikely, but said another North Korean nuclear test would mark "the crossing of a red line" that China was prepared to respond to.
"I have no idea what exact measures China will make this time, but one thing is for sure that they will be much tougher than those we've seen in the past," Pang said.
Earlier Friday, North Korea's Vice Minister Han Song Ryol told AP in an exclusive interview that his country will keep building up its nuclear arsenal in "quality and quantity" and said Pyongyang is ready to go to war if that's what Trump wants.