I confess to be a North Korea watcher only to the extent of how far this paranoid bully can go before some adult in his neighborhood slaps him silly.
The latest incident is a North Korean border guard killing three Chinese citizens and wounding a fourth on the two country's border in the industrial trading town of Dandong. The guard suspected the four were crossing the border for illegal trade activities.
The only authoritative report of the incident was filed by the Associated Press in a dispatch Tuesday quoting Chinese Foreign Minister spokesman Qin Gang in Beijing:
"On the morning of June 4, some residents of Dandong, in Liaoning province, were shot by a DPRK border guard on suspicion of crossing the border for trade activities, leaving three dead and one injured." The DPRK is the acronym for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"China attaches great importance to that and has immediately raised a solemn representation with the DPRK. Now the case is under investigation," he said. End of the regularly scheduled press briefing.
China in recent months has demonstrated extreme patience with its unruly ally whose sole existence depends on a steady pipeline of food, fuel and investments. Beijing has yet to weigh in on North Korea's sinking of a South Korean ship that left 46 sailors dead earlier this year, according to an international investigation.
North Korea's "dear leader," Kim Jong Il made a rare visit to Beijing in early May in search of additional economic assistance agreed upon by China as long as Pyongyang reopened six-party talks on nuclear weapons. Nothing since has been scheduled.
The AP report said some 16,000 North Koreans have used the Chinese border crossings to flee the country since an armistice between North and South Koreas in 1953.
Dandong is where two U.S. journalists, Laura Lang and Euna Lee were captured, convicted and briefly imprisoned by North Korea in March 2009.
The two journalist, working for a publication owned by former Vice President Al Gore, were nabbed inside China by North Korean guards. They were investigating a story about North Korean women forced into sex trade or arranged marriages when defecting to China.