Leaked United States embassy cables have shed light on the complex, and often opaque, relationship between North Korea and its only ally, China, suggesting increasing irritation in Beijing over the North's actions but close personal ties between the leaders of both nations.
One cable from the U.S. embassy in Beijing, part of the cache released by Wikileaks, alleges that annoyed officials in Beijing even described the North as “a spoiled child” in talks with South Korea, indicating increasing willingness in China to push for a possible reunification. “The PRC [People's Republic of China] would be comfortable with a reunified Korea controlled by Seoul and anchored to the United States in a “benign alliance” — as long as Korea was not hostile towards China,” says the cable from February 2010 quoting South Korean officials.
The cables quote the then South Korean Foreign Minister, Chun Yung-woo, as suggesting China's leaders were divided on the question of maintaining the North as a buffer state, with younger leaders willing “to face the new reality” that North Korea had little value to China.
The cables also show deep problems in China's diplomatic relations with South Korea — a significant revelation coming at a time of renewed tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Other cables show deep ties between the ruling parties of China and North Korea, suggesting the involvement of leading Communist Party officials in business deals.