Beijing appears to be sending fresh signals about its view on North Korea, in order to convince U.S. President Donald Trump to take less aggressive action against the rogue nuclear state, several political analysts say.
"One thing we're seeing is a tactical adjustment on Beijing's part to Trump," said John Delury, associate professor of Chinese studies at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. "There's a kind of game here where Beijing is playing along to a certain extent, almost to call Trump's bluff, and to get the Americans to recognize they have the key in their hand to unlock the problem."
"The key is not military. When you start to look carefully at the military options, they are horrific, just given the economic vulnerabilities of everyone in this neighborhood," he said. "The key the U.S. has is diplomacy."
At least two-thirds of North Korea's trade is with China, giving Beijing tremendous leverage over the state. Recent reports indicate that Chinese authorities are beginning to test that power.