"The People's Republic of China (PRC) plays a key role in U.S. policy toward the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea). The PRC is North Korea's closest ally, largest provider of food, fuel, and industrial machinery, and arguably the country most able to wield influence in Pyongyang. China also is the host of the Six-Party Talks (involving the United States, China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and Russia) over North Korea's nuclear program. The close PRC-DPRK relationship is of interest to U.S. policymakers because China plays a pivotal role in the success of U.S. efforts to halt the DPRK's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, to prevent nuclear proliferation, to enforce economic sanctions, and to ensure that North Korean refugees that cross into China receive humane treatment. Since late 2008, China has been not just the largest, but also the dominant, provider of aid and partner in trade with North Korea. This report provides a brief survey of China-North Korea relations, assesses PRC objectives and actions, and raises policy issues for the United States. While Beijing still maintains its military alliance and continues its substantial economic assistance to Pyongyang, in recent years many PRC and North Korean interests and goals appear to have grown increasingly incompatible. Increasingly, many Chinese officials and scholars appear to regard North Korea as more of a burden than a benefit. However, Beijing's shared interest with Pyongyang in preserving North Korean stability generally has trumped these other considerations."
CRS Report for Congress, R41043
U.S. Department of State, Foreign Press Centers: http://fpc.state.gov/