The West needs to be careful what it wishes for. Western capitals want China to be more responsible and active, but they don’t like it when Beijing is more assertive. China wants respect, but not responsibility.
North Korea’s recent provocations – showing Western scientists a new uranium enrichment facility and launching a deadly artillery barrage at South Korea – may soon be considered by the United Nations Security Council. That would provide a test for the Council – and for its only permanent Asian member, China.
The last such test occurred in March, when North Korea sank the South Korean corvette Cheonan, with 46 fatalities. Beijing made the implausible claim that Pyongyang’s responsibility was unproven. US and South Korean naval maneuvers off the Korean peninsula followed, but Chinese diplomatic maneuvers in New York confined the Security Council’s response to a weak statement from its president.
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