If ever there was a time for China to reign in its little brother, North Korea, it would be now, as the peninsula edges "within an inch of war." Unfortunately, China isn't doing that. In fact, it's condoning Pyongyang's behavior, and as we're finding out this morning, that behavior is increasingly reckless.
On Tuesday, a "senior official" told Reuters' Benjamin Kang Lim that North Korea has "almost completed" preparations for what will be its third nuclear test. "Soon. Preparations are almost complete," said the source , who has some credibility given that he correctly predicted North Korea's 2006 nuclear test. The provocative report comes just after Pyongyang vowed to reduce the South to "ashes in three to four minutes" Monday. How does China respond? By giving the country a big fat kiss.
Yesterday, Chinese president Hu Jintao met with a top Korean envoy and publicly-backed North Korea's young leader. "Hu sent his congratulations to North Korea's young new leader Kim Jong Un on his assuming the title of Workers' Party first secretary and said strengthening ties with North Korea was a key priority for China's ruling communists," reported the Associated Press. On CCTV, Hu is quoted saying "We will carry on this tradition ... boost strategic communication and coordination on key international issues and work for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula." It was an important show of support given that China is the North's most important diplomatic ally and its lifeline to economic assistance. But diplomatic and economic assistance isn' the only means in which China is helping the country.