Visiting Seoul before Pyongyang this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping seemed to be singing from the same sheet as President Park Geun-hye on curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
The two leaders also shared concerns over Japan's recent moves to backtrack on its landmark apology for imperialist atrocities and to increase its military role in the region.
Experts say seeking closer ties with South Korea and Seoul's greater cooperation in addressing Asia issues, are all part of China's strategy to upgrade its international status alongside the U.S.
They add Seoul, therefore, should take control of Korean peninsula issues, and come up with a more flexible North Korea policy.
Washington, which wants to keep a firm hold on its influence in Asia against China's rapidly rising status, is not that comfortable with Seoul cozying up with Beijing.
In fact, highlighting the trilateral cooperation with its two allies Seoul and Tokyo, the U.S. has been pressuring South Korea to take part in its anti-ballistic missile system, thought to be directed at China.
And turning a blind eye to Japan's historical denials, Washington also supported Tokyo's constitutional revision that would lift a ban on military action to defend an ally, with hopes Japan can fill in any gaps in U.S. military presence in Asia.
Tokyo, on the other hand, expressed dissatisfaction over Seoul and Beijing's language on history this week.
While the Abe administration in Japan is unlikely to back away from its conservative agenda any time soon, Tokyo partially lifted sanctions on Pyongyang in return for its re-investigation into the North's abduction of Japanese nationals in the past.
And Pyongyang, while keen to avoid criticizing its traditional ally Beijing, is expected to turn away from China for now and focus on improving ties with Japan and Russia.
Choi You-sun, Arirang News.