Beijing has backed Pyongyang since the two fought together in the Korean War.
However, relations between the countries have been frosty since Kim Jong Un succeeded his late father as dictator, promptly purging several key government figures — such as his uncle Jang Song Thaek — with strong ties to China.
The murder of the Kim Jong Nam, who was living in China and advocated Chinese-style economic reforms, is likely to have further soured ties.
But while China may be fed up with North Korea, that doesn’t mean China is ready — or able — to rein in its unruly neighbor or coax it to the negotiating table on terms the US would approve of.
Beijing is opposed to any scenario where the regime topples — leading to a massive influx of refugees and potentially US troops on China’s doorstep.
Anthony Ruggiero, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is also skeptical that China’s coal ban is really that and says that China could still do more damage to its neighbor.
“US and Chinese priorities do not match up on North Korea,” he said. “And I haven’t seen anything that suggests China is taking a different approach.”
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