China should consider abandoning North Korea. The best way of giving up on Pyongyang is to take the initiative to facilitate North Korea’s unification with South Korea. Bringing about the peninsula’s unification would help undermine the strategic alliance between Washington, Tokyo and Seoul; ease the geopolitical pressure on China from northeast Asia; and be helpful to the resolution of the Taiwan question.
The next best thing would be to use China’s influence to cultivate a pro-Beijing government in North Korea, to give it security assurances, push it to give up nuclear weapons and start moving towards the development path of a normal country.
This is why unification – whether it be southern-or-northern-led – is a non-starter. It just means war. The interest groups and factions represented by Zhang Hao or a Zhang Shaotang aren’t just going to back down.