China wants to fulfill international expectations and live up to its emerging status as a great power, but it has a long history with North Korea. China might be nervous, say analysts, that the North could actually get serious one-on-one talks with Washington and flip loyalties.
Many Chinese look at North Korea – isolated, poor, ideological – and see themselves 30 years ago. Back then China and the North were as “close as lips and teeth” – fellow traveling revolutionaries and former war partners against the imperialists.
But the world is changing. When Beijing looks around Asia, it can see some abrupt flips of position and loyalty: Myanmar, one of China’s previous pets, suddenly looks like it may come out of its dark cocoon and make friends with others. Vietnam, long a Chinese fellow-traveler, has turned away as well. China may not want to lose such a strategic card and partner as the North.