While neither Beijing nor Washington want to see North Korea's belligerence explode into actual conflict, Beijing is not willing to push Pyongyang too hard for fear of toppling the regime.
Despite a series of increasingly dire North Korean prophecies, international reaction has been largely calm. Many suspect the North's threats are Kim Jong-un's way of proving himself.
North Korea's decision to pull its workers from Kaesong industrial park coincides with speculation that it could carry out a missile test.
The US is responding to North Korea's bombast as if Pyongyang is capable of making good on its recent threats. Tensions have risen against the backdrop of annual US-South Korean military drills.
Kim Jong-un announced that North Korea will restart its nuclear facility, making the country's nuclear program a source of deep concern for the international community.
After weeks of belligerent talk, North Korea espoused a 'new strategic line,' saying its struggling economy as well as its military strength is a top priority.
Pyongyang has cut the last military hotline to the South and says it's ready to target US bases in Hawaii, Guam, and South Korea. So why is there no sign the North is really girding for war?
Joint US-South Korea military drills yesterday prompted harsh language from North Korea's leader himself today.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently announced plans to cancel a planned US missile defense network in Europe, and instead beef up its interceptors in the Pacific.
What happens now?
Computer networks at major South Korean banks and top TV broadcasters crashed en masse Wednesday, paralyzing bank machines across the country. Immediate suspicion fell on North Korea.
China criticizes US plans to bolster missile defenses in response to provocations by North Korea, saying they would only intensify antagonism.
Skepticism about the effect of the North's dismissal of a cease-fire is grounded in past experience.