China and North Korea: A Relationship in Transition?

Issue & Policy Briefs May 22, 2013, No. 124

Military tensions on the Korean Peninsula have been escalating for several months now. The latest events with the missile launches and newly released reports on the abduction of Chinese fishermen by North Korea have further exacerbated the situation and also cast doubt on the once close relationship between China and North Korea. Beijing has come under increasing pressure from the international community to take a tougher stance on Pyongyang. By observing China’s behavior, it would seem likely that such a development is possible. However, it would be unrealistic to expect that China will abandon North Korea, as this is not in its strategic interests.