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5 reasons why China won't help the US on North Korea

Many Asia watchers are dubious that China either can or will take decisive action to push North Korea away from nuclear threats. Here are five underlying reasons why:

2. China wants to maintain a 'buffer zone'

China may not like the fact that Kim Jong-un is playing dangerous games: After Mr. Kim’s latest nuclear test, many Chinese on social media were angry, calling him a “baby tiger” to be tamed.

But China feels it needs North Korea as a security buffer.

An under-developed and impotent North separates China from a vibrant and democratic zone now called South Korea. For the moment, that’s just fine. China is a soft-authoritarian regime; a main worry is control of its own people. But any scenario that ends up with the US and allies standing on its northeast border becomes a problem in China's eyes. The idea of a US soldier driving a jeep or tank to within inches of its territory, or of Japanese or South Korean traders standing freely at the Yellow River, is radically unwanted. East Asia is still in a 19th century “power game” of nations.

Hence, in Beijing's view, keeping North Korea stable keeps it as a buffer from the US or anyone else getting too close to China.

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