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Is North Korea Exerting ‘Asymmetric Leverage’ Over China?

The Diplomat

December 03, 2018

The last few years have witnessed dramatic oscillations in the tenor and substance of the Sino-North Korean relationship. As is well known, the relationship suffered a deep dive in 2017 through to mid-2018 on the back of a number of North Korean missile and nuclear weapons tests — provocations that prompted China to publicly rebuke Pyongyang and even support sanctions against the hermit state. However, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping have since met on three occasions, and these meetings have been followed by a series of lower level bilateral forums and increases in Chinese aid. The latter developments not only defied trends; they also surprised many well-credentialed analysts whom several month ago concluded that the special, so-called “blood alliance,” or “lips and teeth” relationship between these two neighbors, is no more. How or why did these experts get it wrong?…