China aircraft carrier: China bought the vessel from Ukraine more than a decade ago, and it is viewed as emblematic of the communist state's ambition to be a military power that can challenge America's decades-long supremacy in the west Pacific.
Top US officials appear to be pressing China to do more to rein in North Korean aggression. Meanwhile, the South held a major civil defense drill Wednesday.
US naval exercises Sunday off the Korean peninsula take on added significance, after North Korean attack on a South Korean island. Pyongyang rails against the US-South Korea war games.
After North Korean artillery showered this island in the Yellow Sea Tuesday, locals say they're fearful of North Korea's latest threats of a peninsula 'on the brink of war.'
North Korea kept up its harsh rhetoric Friday, indicating that it saw upcoming military exercises as fresh provocation. US Gen. Walter Sharp toured the island area attacked by the North on Tuesday.
Pentagon officials wonder if and when North Korean aggression will require a US military response. It's 'premature' to say that is being considered after the North Korean attack on South Korea Tuesday, says a Pentagon spokesman.
Security in the region involving North Korea is 'deteriorating dramatically,' Sen. John McCain said at a Senate hearing Thursday.
South Korea President Lee on Sunday emphasized coexistence and proposed a unification tax to prepare for any future collapse of North Korea. Monday, he expressed strong support for this week's war games with the United States.
North Korea agreed to its first talks with the US in a year, and is signaling interest in restarting the six-party talks about nuclear disarmament.
Separately, the chief US military commander in South Korea criticized the North over the sinking of the South Korean warship.