A collapsing North Korea is a nightmare China hopes will never come true, as it could lead to military and political chaos on its doorstep, analysts say.
"China is opposed to any military action against North Korea," said Cui Zhiying, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at Shanghai's Tongji University. Any abrupt, large-scale change on the Korean peninsula would go against China's overall strategy, which targets the stability required for a rapidly growing economy.
"They don't want another Iraq or Afghanistan or Kosovo on their northeastern border," he said.
"If something cataclysmic were to happen, China would have a North Korea where Japan and the United States are big players, and they don't want that.”
The risk that a war in Korea would send massive flows of refugees across the border into China tends to be overstated, and probably does not figure high in deliberations in Beijing, according to analysts. With a population of 1.3 billion, a few hundred thousand North Koreans would be "a drop in the bucket" for China. "Recall the Korean War back in 1950s. The North Koreans did not escape into China in massive numbers. They would move into the hills," he said.
Ultimately, China would hate drastic change because peaceful development of the current status quo is a much more certain road towards greater influence on the peninsula.