The Korean Peninsula has more than a 70 percent chance of war as tensions continue to escalate in the country, according to a warning on Wednesday from a top Chinese expert on North Korean affairs.
"There is a 70 to 80 percent chance that a war will happen because North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may want to use this opportunity to force a reunification of the Korean Peninsula,” Chinese expert Zhang Liangui, a professor of international strategic research at the Communist Party's Central Party School, told the South China Morning Post.
In recent weeks, Pyongyang has continued to threaten South Korea and the United States, even saying the country would bomb U.S. soil with nuclear missiles. As a result, tours in North Korea have been canceled because of the escalated threat from the country.
According to SCMP, Seoul said North Korea could launch a missile test "at any time from now.”
The next few days will bring several anniversaries for North Korea to celebrate, like Kim Il-sung’s birthday on Monday. It is believed that this could prompt Pyongyang to flex its military muscles.
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Even if North Korea doesn’t act on its threats, Zhang suggested that it’s China’s responsibility to discuss confiscating nuclear weapons from Pyongyang to avoid turmoil in the future.
"The longer we delay fixing it, the more difficult the situation will become," he said. "China needs to seriously consider how to tackle the problem."
China’s relationship with Pyongyang is a delicate topic within China, since some believe Beijing’s continuous support of North Korea could affect how the U.S. invests in the country financially.
Deputy Editor Deng Yuwen was suspended from the Study Times, a newspaper associated with the Central Party School, after writing a February article in the Financial Times in which he called for China to abandon North Korea as an ally and suggested that Korea unify.
Since North Korea has been threatening South Korea and the U.S., tours in country have been halted, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told SCMP.
"The tours will only be resumed once conditions are stable," a local travel agent told the website.
According to a staff member from a different agency, tours have been canceled because "many people have expressed worries about their safety.”