Korean Peninsula

Has China Lost Interest in Pyongyang's Provocations?

North Korea's recent ICBM tests rattled the United States, but reaction in China's online community was muted.

Low Chinese Interest in ICBM Launches

Predata's signal to monitor Chinese reaction to North Korean provocations was unusually quiet following two high-profile ICBM tests in July.

In two July tests, North Korea proved it has the capability to hit the continental United States with a ballistic missile. Alarm bells sounded in the West. But in China, by the measure of online conversation about North Korea and its WMD program, the tests were not perceived as particularly significant to the bilateral relationship. 

Historically, the Predata signal that tracks DPRK-China relations shown above has reacted emphatically to Pyongyang's provocations. That these latest, dramatic launches failed to capture Chinese interest may suggest that residents of the Middle Kingdom have become inured to North Korean saber-rattling. 

If that's true, it makes the U.S. effort to persuade Beijing to increase pressure on North Korea more difficult. The Chinese government will be all the more reluctant to stop behavior it considers business as usual.