I was thinking about this for a moment.
Put yourself in China’s shoes. You are a growing superpower. Your greatest competitor, and reigning champ, America, is acting like a drunken doofus, spending money on crap, and wrecking their economy. The only spending they’ve cut is military stuff (because remember, stimulas money is to create jobs, just not at Lockheed building F22s).
Meanwhile, since the reigning champ is currently being managed by a complete wimp, you’ve got another country in your neighborhood who is getting really lippy. North Korea is run by a lunatic, and is in such bad shape that its people are eating each other like something from Mad Max, and they’re trying to build a nuke program, just to be dicks. There is zero chance that the reigning champ will do anything about this, except for having its manager apologize to other random scumbags.
So, part of being the world’s superpower is holding the title of World Cop. You can argue the rightness or wrongness of this philosophy from a Libertarian point of view, but it has been this way since the Perry’s Black Ships sailed into Edo. You get a lot of perks by being the one with the Big Stick.
So since America won’t take care of North Korea. I’m making a prediction. I think that China will use North Korea as an excuse to flex their muscle, and show that they’re a superpower too. I can see China stepping in once North Korea does something really crazy, offing Elton John (sorry, Kim Jong Ill, get those two mixed up), overthrowing the government, and then spinning it as if they were just doing their duty to make the world a better place… Look, America has been doing it for a century, but now they’re weak, and we’re strong, so it is our turn to shape the world.
The North Korean people traditionally hate the Chinese. But when you’re starving, and the new scumbags in charge are feeding you better than the old scumbags in charge, I think China would be seen as a liberator.
China gains power, prestige, and gets to spin themselves as the goodguys for once on the world stage. (no argument that Kim’s got WMDs since he’s already detonated some) America looks weak. Normally when America takes action against another nation, the usual suspects will come out and condemn us. In this case, none of those usual suspects will condemn the Chinese, because China A. owns their debts. B. sells them all their military hardware. C. is the new rising star, and everyone likes to be on the winning team.
This might sound a little crazy now, but check back with me in a year.