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What China's humiliation by North Korea means for East Asia

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches a long-range missile launch.   © Kyodo

     The great Roman orator Cicero, addressing his political enemy Catiline, once asked: "To what extent will you continue to abuse our patience ... Is there no end to your unbridled audacity?"  That question is raised afresh by Pyongyang's remarkable display of insolence to its sole treaty ally, China. 

     Pyongyang's recent nuclear and missile tests were a double humiliation at a time when Beijing was trying to revitalize frayed government and party-to-party ties with Pyongyang. Last October President Xi Jinping dispatched the fifth-ranking member of the Standing Committee, Liu Yunshan, to Pyongyang to participate in the 70th anniversary of the Korean Workers' Party.  Over four days, Liu was seen publicly with Kim Jong Un. Rumours circulated in Beijing that amid improving relations, Kim Jong Un might visit Beijing. 

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