China has deployed five divisions of People’s Liberation Army troops near its border with North Korea, ostensibly in an effort to deter Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons ambitions.

Up to 150,000 PLA troops have been sent to the region over the past month, reports Agence France-Presse, which added that large troop concentrations and new barracks can be seen in nearby towns.

American soldiers who just lost a buddy comfort each other during the Korean War in 1950.

In addition to countering North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, the Chinese troop deployment is also in response to increased violence committed by rogue elements of the North Korean army, AFP said.

According to the Hong Kong Sunday Morning Post, which cited an unnamed Chinese security source, the troops have been in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture since August.

Movement of forces has been seen in Hanchun, Tumen, Kaishan, Sanhe and Baijing. Also, Chinese air force jets have flown regularly over the capital of Yanji, AFP said.

The troops also have been stationed to curb the flow of North Korean immigrants, who have been streaming into China to escape worsening famine and other conditions.

Chinese officials, however, have discounted reports of the deployment.

“I have not heard any information on the deployment of troops along the border with the DPRK (North Korea) by China as you mentioned,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told reporters.

Each PLA unit is reported to have 50,000 troops. The total force, which has been deployed all along China’s 870-mile border with North Korea, includes armored divisions as well, added Hong Kong’s Sing Tao Daily.

The Post said while the deployment was probably strategic in nature, the PLA troops are also there to deter escalating violence committed by North Korean troops.

China was North Korea’s ally during the 1950-53 Korean War, which broke out just five years after Washington helped Beijing drive the Japanese out during World War II. China sent 180,000 troops into North Korea after United Nations and South Korean forces routed North Korean troops in the fall of 1950.

The U.S., which came to the aid of South Korea, lost more than 36,000 soldiers during the conflict.

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