China is in discussions with North Korea about stationing its troops in the isolated state for the first time since 1994, the Chosun Ilbo reports.
The South Korean newspaper quoted an anonymous official at the presidential Blue House as saying that Beijing and Pyongyang recently discussed details of stationing Chinese soldiers in the North's northeastern city of Rason. The location gives access to the Sea of Japan (East Sea), while a senior security official was quoted as saying it would allow China to intervene in case of North Korean instability.
"The worst scenario China wants to avoid is a possibly chaotic situation in its northeastern provinces which might be created by massive inflows of North Korean refugees," Seoul's International Security Ambassador Nam Joo-Hong was quoted as saying.
China's defense ministry declined comment to AFP on the matter.
Chinese troops left North Korea in 1994, when Beijing withdrew from the Military Armistice Commission that supervises the truce that ended the 1950-53 Korean war.