China's president, Xi Jinping, said Sunday that "no one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain," obviously (but not directly) referring to North Korea's latest round of saber-rattling that has put South Koreans and the United States on high alert. North Korea is looking to provoke other countries enough that they are given further aid and an end to sanctions against the isolated, despotic country, while observers become worried that it might launch a new missile this week.

China, an ally of the DPRK, has been pretty much quiet on the recent stirrings of its neighbor, giving all the more weight to Xi Jinping's declaration that the situation is of "grave concern." China is caught in the uneasy position of either working with North Korea to quiet down its threats, or dealing with a larger American presence in the Pacific, a long-time goal of the Obama administration.

China has asked North Korea to protect diplomats in Pyongyang, after it told them on Wednesday that their safety "could not be guaranteed."

From the comments made by its president, it looks like China will play the role of the sober-minded friend who stands between a hothead and the gigantic army that is about to beat him up.