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Air China halts flights to Pyongyang

Apr 17,2017
BEIJING - China’s flagship carrier, Air China, the only Chinese airline with regular flights to North Korea, will temporarily halt its flights between Pyongyang and Beijing starting Monday, China’s state-run media reported Friday.

China’s CCTV gave no reason for the temporary suspension by Air China, but the measure came as tensions are high on the Korean Peninsula over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. The Chinese media said flights between Pyongyang and Beijing have often been canceled due to a lack of passengers.

North Korea’s state-run Air Koryo will remain the only carrier with regular flights between Pyongyang and Beijing.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who held a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this month, has said Xi wants to help the United States with the problem of North Korea.

North Korea is ratcheting up its harsh rhetoric against the Trump administration, warning of a war against any hostile actions by the United States.

Tensions are running high on the Korean Peninsula amid fears that North Korea could go ahead with its sixth nuclear test this weekend to mark the birthday of the North’s late founder and grandfather of leader Kim Jong-un.

The U.S. Pacific Command has already redirected a massive aircraft carrier strike group led by USS Carl Vinson to waters off the Korean Peninsula in a show of force aimed at warning Pyongyang against provocations.

A diplomatic source in Beijing said the flight suspension by Air China is a “message of warning” by China against North Korea.

With China-U.S. ties warming after the summit, China appears to have responded to Washington’s call to do more in reining in North Korea, the source said. Yonhap