China's leverage over its next door neighbor North Korea may be somewhat over-rated.
"China does have more influence than other players but we have to remember China does not have absolute influence," said Wenran Jiang, political science professor at University of Alberta.
"What North Korea really wanted for years is diplomatic recognition of North Korea by the U.S.," said Jiang. "They are frustrated because they feel they have done the six-party talks, they have launched missiles, have done nuclear weapons tests, they have made all kinds of threats but they still don't get the U.S. to move towards normalization."
China has the power to cut off North Korea's most important link with the outside world by stopping their shipments of food, fuel and weapons, but has indicated no intention to do so.Analysts say, despite the apparent ineffectiveness of the six-party talks, Beijing still stands a chance of bringing Pyongyang back to the fold through diplomacy.
"It's important for us to remember that during the six-party talks these conflicts were less likely to happen, while without such mechanism we see bloodshed." Jiang said.
Observers say it all comes down to building trust -- a difficult task -- and here China can play a unique role as a rising global power and a potential peace-maker.