The Worst of Friends

Chinese foreign policymaking is an opaque, often glacial process. Senior leaders rarely give interviews, and the twice-weekly press conferences held by the foreign ministry seldom produce any insight into Beijing's thinking. Last week's briefings were no exception, with a ministry representative doggedly fending off questions about the erratic behavior of China's ally, North Korea. A formal ministry statement blandly stated that China was "seriously concerned" by Pyongyang's July 5 test-firing of seven ballistic missiles, launches that drew international condemnation as a dangerous provocation. Even by Chinese standards, it was a mild response, particularly so because Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had made...

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