History Set to Repeat …
North Korea depends on China for food, fuel, and arms; and China appears to be genuinely unhappy with the North's latest provocation--a planned, so-called space launch that is really an illegal test of a long-range ballistic missile (which may be capable of reaching parts of the United States).
But China won't prevent the test, which is set for the middle of this month. Nor will Beijing punish Pyongyang for provoking a new international crisis. China's main concern with regard to its Korean neighbor and ally is stability. The chaos that would result from a collapse of the Kimist regime, including an outpouring of starving refugees, is one of China's worst nightmares.
In addition, China regards nuclear-armed, "military-first" North Korea as both a buffer state and a potential billy club against U.S. forces in South Korea. The Obama administration's Asia-Pacific "pivot"--a new defense strategy that is clearly aimed at containing China--has no doubt reinforced the Chinese view in this regard.
Endnote: Regarding the pivot, click here for an in-depth defense of the strategy by Bill Gertz, an expert on China's military buildup. In fact, among journalists, Gertz is America's foremost authority on this important and sensitive subject.
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