Patrick, if it’s true that Beijing helped North Korea by supplying or providing specs for a mobile rocket launcher, it would be just another entry in the list of Chinese actions enabling North Korean aggression, as well as helping Iran in its nuclear ambitions. Back in 2007, as Wikileaks revealed, Secretary of State Rice ordered the U.S. ambassador in Beijing to raise the issue of Chinese transshipments of key ballistic missile parts from North Korea to Iran. One reason why some suspect few or no North Korean ships were ever found carrying prohibited materials on the oceans (which the Proliferation Security Initiative was organized for), was that most of Pyongyang’s proliferation was done with tacit Chinese support — using their air and land routes to send materials to the Middle East.
When President Bush raised the issue with Hu Jintao in 2007 at the APEC Summit in Sydney, U.N. Resolutions 1695 and 1718 had already been passed (in 2006), demanding that North Korea cease all activities related to its missile and nuclear programs. Thus, if China was still allowing transshipments in 2007, they were doing so in complete disregard of existing U.N. resolutions and sanctions, in essence abetting the North’s evasion of the resolution.
This is why it’s folly to expect Beijing to seriously help in curbing Pyongyang. They are in league with the Kim regime, and have chosen (for whatever reason — and there is debate about the reasons) to enable the continued existence and aggression of the North. If the Obama administration wants to fix the North Korean problem, the road doesn’t lie through Beijing. It lies through cutting off further negotiations with Pyongyang until we see a material change in the regime’s behavior. Until then, we have to prepare our allies to defend themselves against even the slightest provocation from the North. Otherwise, there will be a miscalculation one day that will lead to conflict.