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China and Russia dispatch ships to shadow Donald Trump’s ’armada’ as it approaches North Korean waters

Russia and China have dispatched spy vessels to shadow a US aircraft carrier group heading to North Korean waters, Japanese media said, amid rising tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

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Russian, Chinese Ships Tail USS Carl Vinson in East China Sea

Beijing sought Russian help in averting a crisis over North Korea last week, as concerns grow in China that Donald Trump is seeking to confront North Korea over its weapon’s program.

The US president sent a navy group led by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson into the region, in what is being seen as a signal to Pyongyang.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, citing “multiple sources of the Japanese government”, said China and Russia had “dispatched intelligence-gathering vessels from their navies to chase the USS Carl Vinson”.

The ships are “strengthening warning and surveillance activities in the waters and airspace around the area,” Japan’s largest daily newspaper said, according to its English language sister publication, The Japan News.

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A vehicle carrying a missile passes by during a mass military parade in Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung Square to celebrate the centenary of North Korean founder

Tensions have been escalating in recent weeks. A North Korean missile "blew up almost immediately" on its test launch on Sunday, US officials said.

But despite the apparent setback for Pyongyang, experts in Asia believe Mr Trump has little room for manoeuvre over North Korea, given the military deterrent Kim Jong-un’s regime has at its disposal.

Arthur Ding, a military expert based at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University, said North Korea used a military parade on Saturday to show the world that “there is no way to reverse its bomb and missile program now, because, like India and Pakistan, North Korea is a de facto nuclear state.”

Mr Ding said: "Politically, it somewhat implies that the DPRK should be treated fairly - if not equally - with that of other nuclear states.”

Mike Pence, the US vice president, was on Monday visiting a military base near the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea.

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Soldiers march across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea

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