WikiLeaks release: How China sees North Korea

China appears to be distancing itself from North Korea and warming up to the idea of Korean reunification, according to WikiLeaks.

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The latest WikiLeaks release suggests that China is trying to distance itself from the North Korean regime and may be struggling to rein in the country, which is heavily dependent on China.

The Monitor notes that intelligence analysts believe China helped North Korea repeatedly ship missiles and nuclear components to and from Iran and Pakistan by air, despite UN sanction resolutions. Wikileaks' first release of cables contained allegations that China dismissed US requests to stop such exports through Beijing. The cables also revealed that Chinese leaders ordered cyber attacks on Google and US government computers, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Day 2 document release showed Chinese officials expressing increasing frustration with North Korea. One painted the regime as a "spoiled child." The Associated Press reports that a top South Korean official dismissed China's nuclear negotiator as "incompetent."

The cables revealed that Beijing appears close to accepting North-South reunification under Seoul's control, but doesn’t want to take the lead on promoting that development.

China supports the ‘independent and peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula,’” reports the Guardian.

There appears to be a split among China's senior leaders about just how to treat North Korea, reports the BBC.

According to one dispatch, some Chinese officials say "they're willing to 'face the new reality' that North Korea was of little value to China as a buffer state," while others don't appear as thrilled with that approach.

This, along with the little information that even China seems to know about North Korea, and the fact that China has been relatively quiet in its response to North Korea’s shelling of a South Korean island, raises the question of how much influence China actually has. Complicating matters is the fact that China is perhaps North Korea’s only “real” ally.

Meanwhile, Choe Thae-bok, the chairman of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly, went to Beijing for a five-day visit with China's Communist Party leadership on regional tensions.

North Korea is expected to seek assurances of China's continued support for the regime, as well as its opposition to the joint military exercises that the US and South Korea began staging in the Yellow Sea on Sunday, analysts told the Wall Street Journal.

"If these intercepted cables are accurate," blogs the Economist, they provide some confirmation that South Korea and the US are right to stick to their policy of pressuring North Korea by refusing to return to six-party talks. And "if Kim Jong-il and his son are calculating their recent military aggressions with an assumption that Beijing regards them as being eternally useful," the Economist says, “They may now have a rethink coming.”

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