When Xi Jinping became the Chinese Communist Party chief, many South Korean observers expected that he would be tough on North Korea. As an increasingly confident superpower, China wouldn’t tolerate the wanton behavior of its smaller neighbor, especially under the strong and charismatic leadership of Xi, who is more conscious of China’s global image and more focused on China’s own national interests, the logic went. In fact, China has been increasingly tough on the United States, not North Korea.
It is clear that China is displeased with North Korea. The displeasure has been growing under Xi since he assumed power in 2013 ― the year when North Korea conducted its third nuclear test, enraging the Chinese. But Xi is also a leader who won’t let his personal feelings cloud his foreign policy judgment, said Yun Sun, a senior associate with the Stimson Center in Washington D.C.
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