Kim Jong-un tests China’s patience as his ambition grows

Pyongyang, Oct. 9, 2015: North Korea’s Kim Jong-un (R) with Liu Yunshan, the fifth highest ranking official in China’s Communist Party (source: dpa)
Pyongyang, Oct. 9, 2015: North Korea’s Kim Jong-un (R) with Liu Yunshan, the fifth highest ranking official in China’s Communist Party (source: dpa)

There was no warning that new trouble for Beijing was coming from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. As his country’s national holiday approached on September 9, 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent, as had been the Chinese leaders’ regular practice since 1948, a courtesy note to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea congratulating its leaders on the anniversary of the country’s birth.

Relations between China and its protégé state on the Korean Peninsula have not been particularly good since Mr Kim inherited power after his father’s death in 2011. They reached an all-time low in 2013, when the new ‘supreme leader’ ordered North Korea’s third nuclear test blast not far from China...

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