If there’s one country North Korea can call its true ally, it’s China.
In fact, China is the only country in the entire world that has relatively friendly relations with the pariah state. Beijing remains, after all, Pyongyang’s biggest trading partner and main source of food, arms and energy.
But after going through a rough patch over the past months, it appears the tense relations between the two neighbors have finally reached a tipping point.
During 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., China and the United States agreed to work together to try to prevent further missile tests by North Korea.
The meeting, where more than 50 world leaders have gathered, comes after the hermit kingdom carried out a hydrogen bomb test and repeatedly test-fired missiles.
U.S. President Barack Obama met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to seek how they can “discourage action like nuclear missile tests that escalate tensions and violate international obligations.”
Previously, Western sanctions did little to discourage North Korean leader Kim Jong-un from attaining his nuclear aspirations as China always came to his rescue.
This time around, however, Xi assured Obama that it would see the latest sanctions — imposed in the wake of the nuclear test on Jan. 6 and a satellite launch on Feb. 7 — would be "fully and strictly" implemented.
Predictably, watching its one and only friend teaming up with its sworn enemy enraged Pyongyang.
Incensed by China’s agreement to newly agreed sanctions, the ruling Workers’ Party of North Korea reportedly commanded its people to confront China with a “nuclear storm” in a letter obtained by South Korea-based Daily NK.
“All Party members and workers must join in soundly crushing China’s pressuring schemes with the force of a nuclear storm for its betrayal of socialism,” reads the document, according to Daily NK. “We must no longer go easy on the Chinese and instead deal with them equally in order to change their attitude of taking us lightly.”
The letter could not be independently verified. Still, even if, for argument’s sake, North Korea isn’t distancing itself from China, the latter definitely is changing its diplomatic policy toward the former, considering Pyongyang’s aggressive tactics have become a strategic burden for Beijing.
Times are changing.