WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- Should North Korea go ahead with a long-range rocket launch as early as next week, China will likely repeat its typically tepid and equivocal approach -- requesting the international community to act in a calm manner, an expert said Friday.
Pyongyang will apparently try to ride on its renewed "blood alliance" with Beijing in defending itself from pressure from other regional powers, according to Masako Ikegami, professor of political science at Stockholm University.
"Beijing will turn a blind eye towards North Korea's latest provocation, while simultaneously calling for restraint by all parties," she said in a report released by the Hawaii-based East-West Center.
North Korea's new leadership announced a plan to blast a rocket, which it says is aimed at sending a satellite into orbit, between April 12 and 16. The timing is symbolic for the North, coinciding the centenary of the birth of late founding leader Kim Il-sung, who is grandfather of the current ruler, Kim Jong-un.
The communist nation hopes to become a self-styled "strong and prosperous" country this year.
The U.S. and its allies have pressed China to use its leverage to help dissuade the nuclear-armed North from the rocket plan, suspected to be a test of an intercontinental missile.
China is the largest benefactor for the impoverished North, under tough U.N. sanctions. China has a track record of blocking U.S. attempts in the U.N. Security Council to impose ultra-strong punishments for the North's nuclear and missile tests.
Ikegami said Beijing is unlikely to be active in efforts to prevent the launch or impose more sanctions if the North carries it out.
"Recently, the China-North Korea 'blood alliance," a concept of allies that originated during the (1950-53) Korean War, has been renewed," she said. "And it is in China's interests that North Korea consolidates its 'absolute deterrence' capability to deter U.S. forces in the region."
China's ultimate interest is to maintain North Korea as a hermit state, subject to Beijing's influence, she added.
One of China's major strategic goals would be to secure naval access to North Korean ports for gateways to the East Sea, also called the Sea of Japan, she pointed out.