While Pyongyang depends on Beijing for trade and diplomatic support, experts say that the North Korean regime has always been annoyed at having played the role of a little brother in much larger China.
Now, while the North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un is set on the world stage and is preparing for the summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump, Beijing fears that Pyongyang will come out of its orbit and attack
While China's economic pressure has been instrumental in bringing Kim to the negotiating table, Beijing fears that Kim can now agree to a deal that will bring his country closer to its former enemies and farther from its traditional ally. , who has seen it go through hunger and global isolation.
"There is even an extreme concern within the strategic Chinese community that the United States may accept a North Korea with nuclear capability as its ally, or at least a friendly country," said Tong Zhao, expert on nuclear policy from the Tsinghua Carnegie Center. for global politics in Beijing.
These concerns have been exacerbated by the close ties between China and the United States. UU When the Trump government collides with a fiery Chinese president, Xi Jinping, for the trade.
"Some of the concerns are so extreme that it almost sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it reflects this deep, ingrained Chinese suspicion about the United States and North Korea," he said.
For more than half a century, the status quo worked perfectly for China: North Korea, a fraternal communist country, acted as a buffer that separated it from US forces in the south.
But Pyongyang's search for its own nuclear weapons, which intensified under Kim Jong Un, changed that balance, raising the specter of a regional arms race to the gates of China, the risk of preventive military action by the United States. UU and its allies, or an unintended outbreak of conflict.
This was something that Beijing could not tolerate.  "China has always wanted to maintain a normal and stable relationship with North Korea, China has no disagreements with North Korea in any thematic area except nuclear," Zhao said.
"China had to respond strongly to the acceleration of North Korea's nuclear development: China joined the rest of the international community to impose sanctions that really impacted North Korea."
Kim also purged several key officials with close ties to Beijing, including his uncle Jang Song Thaek, infuriating his main employer.
Relations suffered and the two traditional allies ended up barely speaking.
Kim's quick proposals earlier this year that proposed talks with South Korea and the United States, while not unwelcome, took Beijing by surprise.
The optics was unmistakable. Kim showed deference to China by traveling to the capital to inform his great neighbor and ally and to ask for his advice and blessings. ng. President Xi made a great fetish show to Kim, in the process reminding the world that China is on the side of North Korea and remains a key diplomatic player on the Korean Peninsula.
"China does not like the current image of the two Koreas and the central scenario of the United States without China, and Beijing's main concern is the possibility that it will not be able to exercise its influence and serve its interests in the region." , said Duyeon Kim. , senior member of the Future Forum of the Korean Peninsula in Seoul.
Will the maximum pressure continue?
Beijing fears an economic and political collapse that would send refugees fleeing across the border and could lead to the possible reunification of the North with the allied South of the United States.
Shortly after that announcement, an op-ed piece in the government's strident Global Times explicitly stated this view: "If Washington still wants to force Pyongyang to abandon nuclear weapons with maximum pressure, it will be dangerous, and China and South Korea will not accept such an approach, it will probably announce a return to even more agitation. "
"The international community should encourage North Korea by lifting some sanctions and resuming certain exchanges, showing North Korea the enormous benefits that will bring its return to the international fold, and the importance of abandoning its nuclear weapons will have in its security"  Everything indicates that this opinion is shared by the Chinese government.
"We believe that all resolutions must be fully implemented and the DPRK's sanctions and resolutions not only include sanctions but also measures that will promote denuclearization and promote peace and stability in the peninsula," said the spokesman. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lu Kang. week.
Ultimately, Xi does not want the US UU Be in the driver's seat in a region where China is increasingly in control, and at a time when relations between Beijing and Washington are minimal.
Kim, the analyst, says Beijing will take every opportunity to undermine the credibility of the US. UU And influence the results of the two summits.
"If Beijing is not happy with the outcome of the two summits, it could easily derail US efforts to denuclearize North Korea by lifting sanctions against the North, providing a safe haven for its illicit activities and refusing to implement the future UN sanctions, "he says.