China's change on N. Korea may help U.S.

April 6, 2013 at 8:59 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 6 (UPI) -- China is being pressured by the Obama administration to rein in North Korea or face an increased American military presence in the region, officials say.

The United States is ratcheting up the diplomatic heat as it perceives Beijing becoming frustrated with the regime in Pyongyang, The New York Times reported Friday.

China has not protested publicly or privately as the United States sent ships, airplanes and military equipment into the region in the wake of North Korean threats. The White House has viewed that lack of reaction, officials say, as a sign of Beijing's flagging support for its wayward Communist neighbor and of concerns unrestrained backing of Pyongyang will hurt ties with Washington.

China's position on North Korea appears to be "evolving," said Tom Donilon, President Obama's national security adviser. The timing of U.S. contacts with China's fledgling leader, Xi Jinping, about North Korea "will be an important early exercise between the United States and China," Donilon said.

China has proved to be an enigma in Washington's calculations of the Asian giant's true feelings about the North. It has sometimes failed to act after appearing to respond to U.S. entreaties. In the current crisis, China has expressed concerns over the rising level of tension even as its statements have tried not to add to the status of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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