North Korea is like that awkward cousin who is always likely to say something unexpected and embarrassing, like announcing plans to launch a ballistic missile. China has expressed its “concern” about Pyongyang’s plan to test fire a Kwangmyongsong-3 missile between December 10th and 22nd, and called for all sides to “act in a way that is more conducive to the stability of the Korean peninsula.”
What the launch mostly does is dash hopes that North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un would be looking to pursue a diplomatic approach to regional security. Instead he seems more like a chip off the old block, seeking to catch his neighbors off balance, much as his father, Kim Jong Il, liked to do.
The proposed launch will coincide with the first anniversary of his death. Kim Jong Un will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the launch of a rocket in April to mark the centenary of the birth of his grandfather, KIm Il Sung, which saw the missile break up shortly after firing and fizzle into the sea in several pieces.
Beijing has acknowledged its long-standing if increasingly trying ally’s right to peaceful uses of outer space, though within “limitation of UN Security Council resolutions”. No doubt its officials will have rolled their eyes along with the rest of the world at the North Korean state news agency’s assertion that “space technology has become a symbol of [North Korea’s] prosperity.”