North Koreans gather at the Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate a satellite launch on Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
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Official moves toward the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea in the wake of Pyongyang's latest rocket launch will increase pressure on Beijing to bring its errant neighbor to heel, analysts say. But they also highlight the inherent dangers of disunity in dealing with North Korea's growing military threat, and could presage an arms buildup if China feels threatened by the rollout.Beyond the strategic logic lies a diplomatic imperative, which suggests an eventual THAAD deployment may be less motivated by what North Korea is doing and more by what China is not doing.China, wary of the consequences of a collapsing North Korea on its border, has resisted punitive sanctions before, and looks set to do so again as the U.N. Security Council debates its response to Pyongyang's latest provocations.China is South Korea's most important trade partner and – in deference to Beijing's sensitivities on the issue – South Korea had, until now, declined to formally discuss bringing in THAAD.Ties have significantly improved as a result but, on the key issue of dealing with North Korea, Park's diplomatic initiative has not achieved the desired results.
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