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Asked about the Chinese military buildup near the border, Little did not deny reports of the mobilization but referred reporters to the Chinese military for comment.

“I have seen those reports,” Little said of news reports of the Chinese border buildup. “But I would refer you to the Chinese military or the Chinese government for comment.”

Little said he was unaware of any communication between the Pentagon and the Chinese military regarding the Korean situation.

Two U.S. missile defense warships, the destroyers USS Decatur and the USS McCain, were deployed in the western Pacific to deal with any North Korean missile threats, he said. A large sea-based x-band missile defense radar also could be moved closer to Korea, he said.

“Missile defense is an important priority for us in the Asia-Pacific and elsewhere, and we are postured to protect our allies and our own interests in this region and other regions of the world,” Little told reporters at the Pentagon.

Chinese military and civilian spokesmen in Beijing made no mention of the northeast troop buildup in remarks to reporters at two briefings on Tuesday. The officials called for calm.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun described the current situation on the Korean peninsula as “extremely complicated and sensitive.” He said all sides should seek to ease tension and maintain regional peace and stability.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters Tuesday that “we regret” Pyongyang’s announcement that it will restart a five-megawatt nuclear reactor.

Asked if recent Chinese military exercises could increase tensions, Hong said, “We believe that war on the Korean Peninsula would not serve the interest of any party. The parties concerned have a common interest in and a joint responsibility for maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia at large. We hope that the parties concerned will act in the overall interest, remain calm, show restraint, resume dialogue and negotiations, improve relations, promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and maintain enduring peace and stability in Northeast Asia.”

However, a senior Chinese military official said Tuesday that the PLA should strengthen combat readiness to ensure victory in wars.

Gen. Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), made the comments during a visit to PLA troops in eastern China’s Jiangsu, Fujian, and Zhejiang provinces, the state-run news outlet reported.

“Military officers and soldiers must be absolutely loyal, pure and reliable and firmly follow the directions of the Central Committee of the CPC, Central Military Commission and chairman Xi [Jinping],” Fan said.

Additionally, North Korea’s government announced it would step up nuclear weapons development by adopting what Pyongyang called a “new strategic line” that seeks to bolster both economic and nuclear development together.

The government issued a decree that sought to place the position of nuclear weapons for self-defense as a higher national priority.

One step is to restart the Yongbyon reactor that had been reportedly destroyed by North Korea in 2007 under international pressure.

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