NOTTINGHAM – North Korea’s third nuclear test is a game changer not only for the United States and Japan, but also for the regime’s last ally, China. The official Chinese reaction to North Korea’s latest provocation was stern: China is “strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed” to the test, and it is calling for the resumption of international talks. But China’s stance lacks meaningful bite, because its leaders fail to recognize that they no longer need to succumb to their unruly neighbor’s blackmail.
In carrying out the test, the North Koreans have once again compromised China’s national interests. The international community is again firmly focused on China’s relationship with its rogue ally, and expects that, as an emerging superpower seeking to reassure the world of its peaceful rise, China will play a constructive role. However limited China’s influence may be, the North Korean regime can sustain itself only with Chinese backing.