China is a US foreign policy created Frankenstein monster. This seemingly unlikely assertion is nowhere better exemplied than in America's approach to North Korea.
Under George W. Bush, Washington came up with a cheap way to hem in Pyongyang so that Kim Jong il could not escape its pressure to primarily abandon North Korea's nuclear programme.
Instead of talking to North Korea, Mr. Bush came up with the idea of letting China do America's dirty work. It didn't dawn on the US president that he had weakened America's dominant position in east Asia with this move.
Today, it is China who calling the shots, and the US jumping through its hoops.
Consider the US's decision to call off joint military exercises in the Yellow Sea. They would be the fourth in a determined series of naval drills as a show of force following the sinking of the South Korean corvette 'Cheonan' in March 2010.
North Korea disclaimed any responsibility and threatened retaliation. It staged its own drills on its own territory. And China rejected the US suggestion that it condemn Pyongyang.
The US and South Korean manoeuvres close to North Korea's territorial waters spilt into the Yellow Sea, which China considered too close for comfort.
Consequently, in September, Beijing undertook live fire naval drills and air exercises as a warning to Washington and Seoul days before another US South Korean display of sabre rattling.
The lesson was not missed in the White House and South Korea's Blue House. To make the point sharper on the eve of the October drills, China has sent a delegation of senior military offficers on a four day visit to North Korea. This display of 'traditional friendship' is a shot across the US and South Korean ostentious displays of military prowess.
Washington and Seoul got the message. They cancelled the planned exercises, and, what's more, Seoul announced that there won't be any more for the rest of 2010.
And thus we see the result of the Bush 'North Korea doctrine'. It is clever by half, and in the end, has diminished Washington's ability to constrain or influence North Korea.