Can Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao persuade North Korea to return to the six-party talks on its nuclear weapons program?
As North Korea's close neighbor, traditional ally and main provider of economic aid, China is widely believed to hold the key to solving the North Korea conundrum.
"Premier Wen's visit, by definition, must be a success or he would not go," says a political analyst who periodically visits Beijing and Pyongyang.
The trip resulting in a return to the talks is a best-case scenario, says the political analyst, "Wen will be in a position to claim credit for getting the parties back to the six-party talks, and for China to portray itself in a responsible role. It will re-position China as the regional leader and honest broker in the Korean conflict."
Mike Chinoy, senior fellow at the University of Southern California's the U.S.-China Institute explains North Korea's new tack: "The North Koreans are in an engagement mode. They sorted out their internal circumstances, Kim is basically recovered from health problems and is very much in charge and I think the North is seeking to reach out diplomatically across the board, including the Chinese.”