The United States' top pointman on Asia says China is still struggling to set a clear priority in terms of its strategy towards North Korea.
Speaking during a conference call hosted by the Asia Society, Daniel Russel, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs laid out two contradicting imperatives faced by Beijing.
One is the maintenance of stability on its border and the other, ending North Korea's quest for nuclear weapons capability.
He added that while China continues to hold on to its coaxing tactics towards Pyongyang that proved to be futile he said Chinese leaders are starting to realize that they need to put China's own national security interest in ending the nuclear program above anything else.
The veteran diplomat then urged Pyongyang's traditional ally to take further steps to convince North Korea towards denuclearization.
The comments come as North Korea continues to ramp up its anti-U.S. rhetoric.
Speaking in front of the commanders of the North Korean People's Army on Tuesday, North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un accused the United States of ignoring its good intentions and generosity, and of trying instead to annihilate and isolate the country and crush it by using military force.
Kim added he would not accept the U.S. policy towards his country.
Pundits expect Pyongyang to carry out more provocations this month as it is set to celebrate the birthday of late national founder Kim Il-sung and the foundation of the North Korean military.
U.S. President Barack Obama is also set to visit South Korea at the end of the month.
Yoo Li-an, Arirang News.