China has warned that “conflict could break out at any moment” as tension over North Korea increases.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said if war occurred there could be no winner.

Mr Wang’s comments come as the US voices increasing concern at North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and deploys a Navy carrier group off the Korean peninsula.

China, North Korea’s only backer, fears conflict could cause the regime to collapse and problems on its border.

Mr Wang said: “Lately, tensions have risen between on the one hand the United States and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and on the other, the DPRK (North Korea) and one has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment.

“I think that all relevant parties should be highly vigilant with regards to this situation.

“We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage,” Mr Wang said.

Adding to Chinese unease, President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday that the US was not afraid of acting alone on North Korea.

“If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.”

Mr Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping have been in contact by phone since their summit last weekend in Florida, and Reuters quotes US officials as saying tougher economic sanctions against North Korea are also being considered.

China is concerned any conflict could lead to a huge refugee problem on its border with North Korea. But, in a sign of growing frustration with its neighbour, it recently blocked coal imports from the North.

There is also intense speculation that North Korea could carry out a sixth nuclear bomb test or another a missile launch on Saturday – the 105th anniversary of the birth of its first leader, Kim Il-sung.

In an interview with Associated Press, North Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol accused the Trump administration of “becoming more vicious and more aggressive” in its policy towards the North.

Source: BBC