China's army looks like it's getting ready for something big to go down in North Korea

China's military has been increasing the strength and number of its forces along its 880-mile border with North Korea as Pyongyang's military provocations cause the US and its allies to think long and hard about military action against the rogue regime.

A report from the Wall Street Journal says that China has established a new border defense brigade, implemented 24-hour video surveillance of the border, and constructed bunkers to protect from possible nuclear or chemical attacks.

China conducted a live-fire drills in June and July with helicopter gunships and armored infantry units, including a simulated battle with artillery, tanks, and helicopters, according to the Journal. The nature of these military exercises go beyond securing a border, and mimic fighting a nuclear-armed adversary.

30 PHOTOS
Evidence of strained ties along the China/North Korea border
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Evidence of strained ties along the China/North Korea border
Men rest on the North Korean side of the Yalu River north of the town of Sinuiju, North Korea, March 31, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A North Korean soldier guards the gate on banks of the Yalu River, north of Sinuiju, North Korea, April 1, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
North Korean soldiers react as a boat sails from the Chinese side of the Yalu River, north of the North Korean town of Sinuiju and Dandong in China's Liaoning province, March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A man and boys enter the water on an ox-cart from the North Korean side of the Yalu River, just north of the town of Sinuiju, North Korea, March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A North Korean soldier sits on a bank of the Yalu River just north of Sinuiju, North Korea, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Tourists walk on the Broken Bridge, bombed by the U.S. forces in the Korean War and now a tourist site, over the Yalu River that divides North Korea and China, in Dandong, China's Liaoning province, April 1, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 

People gather around a fortune teller in front of the Broken and Friendship bridges across the Yalu River in Dandong, China's Liaoning province, March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

A North Korean soldier looks from a watchtower on the banks of the Yalu River, just north of Sinuiju, North Korea, March 31, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
North Korean soldiers patrol behind a border fence near the North Korean town of Sinuiju and Dandong in China's Liaoning province, March 31, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A vendor receives Chinese money after selling North Korean goods to tourists on a boat taking them from the Chinese side of the Yalu River for sightseeing close to the shores of North Korea, near Dandong, China's Liaoning province, April 1, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A girl stands on a ferry on the North Korean side of the Yalu River, just north of Sinuiju, North Korea, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
North Korean farmers work in a field as a section of the Great Wall is seen on the Chinese side of the Yalu River, north of the town of Sinuiju in North Korea and Dandong in China's Liaoning province, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
Lights are turned on on the Friendship and the Broken bridges over the Yalu River connecting the North Korean town of Sinuiju and Dandong in China's Liaoning province, March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
Workers stand on pile of goods at a port near North Korean town of Sinuiju, across the Yalu River from Dandong, in China's Liaoning province, April 1, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
Tourists from the Chinese side of the Yalu River sail in front of a North Korean boat ferrying people north of the town of Sinuiju in North Korea and Dandong in China's Liaoning province, April 1, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
Tourists pose with Chinese flag on a boat taking them from the Chinese side of the Yalu River for sightseeing close to the the shores of North Korea, near Dandong, China's Liaoning province, April 1, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
Tourists gather to watch North Korean side of the Yalu River from the Broken Bridge, bombed by the U.S. forces in the Korean War and now a tourist site, in Dandong, China's Liaoning province, April 1, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A woman in traditional dress invites customers to a North Korean restaurant on the banks of the Yalu River in Dandong, China's Liaoning province, March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A souvenir vendor takes a nap in front of barbed wire marking the border between North Korea and China, just north of Dandong in China's Liaoning province, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Tourists look from a boat taking them from the Chinese side of the Yalu River for sightseeing close to the shores of North Korea, near Dandong, China's Liaoning province, April 1, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A security officer guards an entrance of a luxury apartment complex built and offered for sale on the Moon Island on the Yalu River, in Dandong, China's Liaoning province, March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A man sits between binoculars he offers to tourists to watch the North Korean side of the Yalu River from the Broken Bridge, bombed by the U.S. forces in the Korean War and now a tourist site, in Dandong, China's Liaoning province, April 1, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A couple gets ready for their wedding photo session on a boat that takes tourists from Chinese side of the Yalu River for sightseeing close to the shores of North Korea, near Dandong, China's Liaoning province, March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A woman exercises as a man stands at the banks of the Yalu River across from the North Korean town of Sinuiju, in Dandong, China's Liaoning province, March 31, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A rocking chair is placed on the balcony of a luxury apartment overlooking the North Korean town of Sinuiju, in Dandong, China's Liaoning province, March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A man pauses at the banks of the Yalu River across from the North Korean town of Sinuiju, in Dandong, China's Liaoning province, March 31, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
The North Korean side of the Yalu River and the Broken Bridge, bombed by U.S. forces in the Korean War and now a tourist site, are seen from a hotel room in Dandong, China's Liaoning province, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A man carrying fishing net wades through shallow waters of the Yalu River between China and North Korea, north of Dandong, China's Liaoning province, April 1, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
The sun rises through fog over the Friendship and the Broken bridges over the Yalu River connecting the North Korean town of Sinuiju and Dandong in China's Liaoning province, March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
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While China and North Korea exist on paper as allies, Sim Tack, a North Korea expert at Stratfor, a geopolitical-analysis firm, previously told Business Insider that China would not likely step up to defend Pyongyang from a US-led attack, but would more likely try to prevent or dissuade the US from taking such a step.

Still, a US-led attack on North Korea remains unlikely. South Korea's new liberal government has sought to pursue engagement with its neighbor, and the US would ultimately need its support for such a campaign. From a purely military point of view, North Korea's artillery and nuclear arms hold too many civilians in Seoul at risk.

In June, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis described possible conflict with North Korea as "a serious, a catastrophic war, especially for innocent people in some of our allied countries, to include Japan most likely."

22 PHOTOS
Chinese soldiers train in the snow
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Chinese soldiers train in the snow
HEIHE, CHINA - DECEMBER 15: Frontier soldiers go skiing during a drill on December 15, 2016 in Heihe, Heilongjiang Province of China. Frontier soldiers practice skiing skills at the temperature lower than minus 30C as it is an important skill for those who need to battle and patrol in harsh weather conditions. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
HEIHE, CHINA - DECEMBER 15: A frontier soldier goes skiing during a drill on December 15, 2016 in Heihe, Heilongjiang Province of China. Frontier soldiers practice skiing skills at the temperature lower than minus 30C as it is an important skill for those who need to battle and patrol in harsh weather conditions. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) practice with swords as they take part in a winter training in temperatures below minus 10 degrees Celsius at China's border with Russia in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, February 27, 2015. Picture taken February 27, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: MILITARY ENVIRONMENT) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA
Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) throw snow onto each other as part of their winter training in temperatures below minus 10 degrees Celsius at China's border with Russia in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, February 26, 2015. Picture taken February 26, 2015. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA
HEIHE, CHINA - DECEMBER 15: Frontier soldiers go skiing during a drill on December 15, 2016 in Heihe, Heilongjiang Province of China. Frontier soldiers practice skiing skills at the temperature lower than minus 30C as it is an important skill for those who need to battle and patrol in harsh weather conditions. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
Soldiers of the Donetsk People´s Republic, DPR, check a public bus at the border checkpoint with ukrainian army in Gorlovka, Ukraine, on December 15, 2016. (Photo by Celestino Arce/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
HEIHE, CHINA - DECEMBER 15: Frontier soldiers go skiing during a drill on December 15, 2016 in Heihe, Heilongjiang Province of China. Frontier soldiers practice skiing skills at the temperature lower than minus 30C as it is an important skill for those who need to battle and patrol in harsh weather conditions. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
HEIHE, CHINA - DECEMBER 15: Frontier soldiers go skiing during a drill on December 15, 2016 in Heihe, Heilongjiang Province of China. Frontier soldiers practice skiing skills at the temperature lower than minus 30C as it is an important skill for those who need to battle and patrol in harsh weather conditions. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
HEIHE, CHINA - DECEMBER 15: Frontier soldiers go skiing during a drill on December 15, 2016 in Heihe, Heilongjiang Province of China. Frontier soldiers practice skiing skills at the temperature lower than minus 30C as it is an important skill for those who need to battle and patrol in harsh weather conditions. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers throw snow onto their bodies in temperatures below minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 33 degrees Fahrenheit) during a winter training session at a military base in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, January 20, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA
Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) jump as part of their winter training in temperature of negative 26 degrees Celsius at China's border with Russia in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, December 14, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
HEIHE, CHINA - DECEMBER 15: A frontier soldier goes skiing during a drill on December 15, 2016 in Heihe, Heilongjiang Province of China. Frontier soldiers practice skiing skills at the temperature lower than minus 30C as it is an important skill for those who need to battle and patrol in harsh weather conditions. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
HEIHE, CHINA - DECEMBER 15: Frontier soldiers go skiing during a drill on December 15, 2016 in Heihe, Heilongjiang Province of China. Frontier soldiers practice skiing skills at the temperature lower than minus 30C as it is an important skill for those who need to battle and patrol in harsh weather conditions. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) practice skiing in sub-zero temperatures in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, February 25, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA.
Soldiers from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) take part in a training session in temperatures below minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit) in Heihe, Heilongjiang Province, China, February 19, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA.
People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers throw snow onto their body during a winter training session at a military base in Heihe, Heilongjiang province January 4, 2015. Picture taken January 4, 2015. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA
People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers pour snow from a tyre onto their head during a training session in Heihe, Heilongjiang province December 24, 2014. Picture taken December 24, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA
Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) throw snow at each other as part of their winter training in temperature of negative 26 degrees Celsius at China's border with Russia in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, December 14, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA.
Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) throw snow at themselves as part of their winter training in a temperature around negative 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit) at China's border with Russia in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, January 31, 2016. REUTERS/China Daily ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA.
New recruit People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers shout slogans as they march during a training session in cold winter temperatures at a military base in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, China, November 29, 2015. Local temperatures reached minus 20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday. Picture taken November 29, 2015. REUTERS/China Daily CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA
A soldier looks on during a practise drill in temperatures of about minus 30 degrees centigrade (-22 F) in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, December 16, 2014. Picture taken December 16, 2014. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA - Tags: MILITARY ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA
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Even short of war, China now has reason to view North Korea as a liability.

In response to North Korea's missile tests and military provocations, the US based its powerful THAAD missile defense battery in South Korea, frightening Chinese military analysts who think the THAAD's powerful radar could one day effectively neuter China's ability to engage in a nuclear exchange with the US.

Beyond handling a possible refugee crisis from a collapsed North Korean regime, Beijing has now assembled forces sufficient to shape the outcome of any possible conflict between the West and Pyongyang.

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