It's trade that fosters peaceful neighbors, not sanctions and it seems that China will continue in its engagement of N.Korea in this way. Last week saw the signing of the Joint Development Zones plan that covers the setting up and operation of management committees in the zones in North Korea, electricity supply in one of them, and agricultural cooperation.
The Hwanggumphyong and Wihwado zones will focus on sectors including information and tourism to “gradually become an intelligence-intensive emerging economic zone of North Korea.”
The Rason zone will focus on areas including raw materials, equipment manufacturing, high-tech, apparel and high-efficiency agriculture. Rason will “gradually develop into an advanced manufacturing base for North Korea and an international logistics center and regional tourist center for Northeast Asia”.
Combined with the special dispensation given to North Korean migrant workers in the border areas of China, Beijing see's trade and development as the chief tool for peaceful dialogue.
Now the question to be answered is: Will China use its Economical leverage to put the Nuclear issue back in the bottle? Any sanctions do carry significant risks for China, if China were to cut off food or fuel shipments, the North's economy would be crippled and its government might even collapse. The resulting situation (refugees and boarder security issues) could be very destabilizing for China.
China's policy toward North Korea's nuclear program has long been based on two principles: that the Korean peninsula must be free of nuclear weapons, and that the dispute over the North's nuclear policies must be resolved peacefully. The strategic stakes involved with North Korea going nuclear are extremely high. A nuclear-armed North could produce a cascade effect, leading South Korea, Japan, and even Taiwan to consider developing nuclear weapons programs.
Of primary importance to China is the security of its border and Economic Stability hence any moves by the West will be carefully considered with respect to these two issues. Eventually N.Korea will have no option but to embark on Chinese style economic reforms and It would be China that dictated the pace of these with support and technology transfer.
Moving forward the question remains: Where will N.Korea fall in the development of the alliances that Beijing is currently building across Asia and the Brick countries?