By Samuel Burke, CNN
China has long been North Korea’s strongest ally, but the alliance might be based on nothing more than nostalgia.
That’s according to Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell.
In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday, Campbell said that North Korea will be at the top of the agenda for U.S. President Barack Obama’s upcoming meeting with China's new President Xi Jinping, along with the issue of cyber security.
Campbell thinks Obama might have success on both fronts, not because of “great goodwill” between the U.S. and China, but mainly because he sees China “poorly positioned” on both fronts.
“People sometimes believe that there's a warm, flourishing relationship between North Korea and China,” Campbell said. “I don't think that's the case. In fact, I think the relationship is based more on a nostalgia for the Korean War and the long association of political parties.”
Campbell believes it’s in China to readjust its positions.
“They need to stop their indiscriminate attacks against businesses and the U.S. government,” he said. “On North Korea, they've got to take a much tougher in with respect to the misbehavior and the provocations on Pyongyang's part.
More than anything else, China wants stability in the Korean Peninsula, Campbell believes.
“They'd like denuclearization. But what they are very aware of is that this new leadership that North Korea is provocative and dangerous to their own strategic interests,” he said. “Underneath it, a lot of distrust, a lot of anxiety, and I think the Chinese have just about had it with North Korea. They recognize that the steps that they have taken, nuclear, provocations, are creating the context for more military activities on the part of the United States and other countries that ultimately are not in China's best strategic interests.
In the video above you can watch Amanpour’s full interview with Campbell and his insight into the historic meeting between Presidents Obama and Xi.