It has become conventional wisdom in recent years to characterize the PRC as an “assertive” power. Since 2008, many commentators and analysts insist that China has become forceful and activist on a wide range of foreign policy issues.1 While Beijing appears to have become more proactive on many issues especially with regards to the United States, where Korea is concerned China has tended to be surprisingly quite passive and reactive. Although China has been modestly proactive toward the Korean peninsula at times during the past twenty years (i.e. early 1990s and early 2000s), this has not been evident of late. What explains the dramatic contrast between Chinese forthrightness toward the United States and recent reticence on Korea?