Joel Wit, a former U.S. State Department official known for his expertise on North Korea, says China's North Korea policy remains largely unchanged.
He argues it is a big mistake to think that Beijing is now of the same mind as the U.S., for which the denuclearization of North Korea is a top priority.
Wit says that for China, getting rid of Pyongyang's nuclear program is just one of many goals in the larger context of maintaining peace in Northeast Asia.
"China now supports what we're trying to do and of course, our focus is denuclearization, is wrong. I mean they're interested in denuclearization, but in the context of a broader political movement towards peace and security on the Korean peninsula."
The U.S. expert also urged South Korea to get a correct understanding of China's strategy on Pyongyang.
Wit predicts that at the upcoming summit between South Korea and China,.. China will ask South Korea for more patience and flexibility on the North.
"They'll tell President Park, I'm going to bet, she should exercise maximum flexibility on procedural issues in order to begin talks on substantive issues, I think."
Wit warns that if Seoul tries to change Pyongyang's behavior through a principle-oriented approach, it will not be successful.
"By sticking on these kinds of issues by being very principled, we're going to educate the North Koreans and eventually they are going to change their behavior, that's not what it's about here."
Wit says Seoul will be better off in its dealings with Pyongyang if it first understands the priorities for China and North Korea, and the similarities and differences therein, based on the facts at hand.
Wit previously served at the State Department's Office of Strategic Nuclear Policy for 15 years and is now a visiting scholar at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
Kim Yeon-ji, Arirang News.