When North Korea tested its second atomic warhead last year, South Korean diplomats said with satisfaction their Chinese counterparts had finally lost patience with the reclusive dictatorship on their border and that Beijing was poised to take a tough line.
In fact, Mr Kim’s visit to China this week yielded no fresh concessions on nuclear weapons. Instead, the khaki-clad dictator was treated to a series of visits to the sort of factories, ports and a hi-tech business park in Beijing that China hopes he could mimic to help him rescue his economy.
Diplomats say Mr Kim brazenly plays upon Chinese fears. If the Chinese do not pump aid into his crumbling economy, he argues, they will face refugees pouring across the border and possible unrest in a million-man army which has control of crude nuclear warheads.
See also “China praises North Korea at end of Kim Jong Il’s visit” from the Los Angeles Times.