How icy relations with China changed the game for North Korea

Xi and Kim in a block of ice
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

As Chinese President Xi Jinping consolidates power and rolls out his trillion-dollar plan for international influence, there's one undeniable thorn in his side: Kim Jong-un. If the North Korean regime falls, a unified Korea likely means American troops on Chinese shores. But if Kim holds onto his nuclear weapons, the likelihood of a devastating war on China's turf keeps escalating.

The bottom line: The instability makes Beijing extremely nervous. Its goal: no chaos, no war, no nukes. And it will do whatever it takes to get there.