From The New York Times:
China's hands-off attitude towards China may finally have reached an end. The Kim Jong Ill post-stroke, nuclear testing era appears to be crossing too many lines.
Image from nti.org
WASHINGTON — The United States is pressing China to consider taking a variety of severe sanctions against North Korea, including the inspection of suspect ships and planes, as it tries to ratchet up the global response to Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test, administration officials said Thursday.
But it is not clear that the Chinese government has the stomach for a heightened showdown with North Korea, these officials said, even though its criticism of the underground test on Monday was unusually vehement.
The administration is also seeking China’s cooperation in a global effort to disrupt the flow of money to North Korea’s ruler, Kim Jong-il, and his family, officials said. Some of that money is suspected to be held in Chinese-owned banks, making such an effort diplomatically sensitive.
Still, a senior official said he was “pleasantly surprised” by how open China was to cooperating with the United States. China has historically tolerated the erratic behavior of Mr. Kim, worrying more about a calamitous collapse of his government than about his nuclear ambitions. But the recent test and missile launchings, the official said, may have crossed a line with China’s leaders.
“At the level of Chinese irritation, this is historic,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “Normally, the Chinese urge us not to react. But they are reaching a point where they could be agreeable to using more of their own weight.”
The first thing I learned about North Korea in geography class in high school was that its people had resorted to eating tree bark. In addition to that lovely piece of information, I was just about as disgusted to hear that North Korea's largest industries are counterfeitting US dollars and producing heroin and crystal meth. North Korea can also put another hat in its feather for having produced the worst piece of architecture in the history of man.
Image of Pyongyang's half-built Ryugyong Hotel from Esquire
North Korea is a "fascinating" place. In the same way that the holocaust was a fascinating event in history. I'd be happy to see North Korea lose its friends, well friend (China), over its latest nuclear testing. I'm not sure how the logistics would work, but seeing a 180 degree change of direction in that country over the coming years would be a wonderful thing.