China's support of North Korea is likely to remain steadfast, but among policymakers in Beijing, the idea of replacing Kim Jong Un as its leader has gained adherents.
The United States appears to be preparing for a showdown with China and the United Nations over North Korea. Over the weekend, in an interview with the Financial Times, U.S. President Donald Trump said, "China will either decide to help us with North Korea or they won't," adding, "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will." This was an unambiguous signal to China ahead of the start of Thursday's summit between Trump and President Xi Jinping.
Three weeks after the Trump-Xi meeting in Florida, the U.N. Security Council will hold a special session led by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on North Korea and nuclear nonproliferation. Earlier this week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, announcing Tillerson's upcoming U.N. visit and referencing the U.S.-China summit, said: "The United States has seen China for 25-plus years say that they are concerned about North Korea, but we...