Rather than getting embroiled in a petty feud over an exaggerated threat from North Korea, Beijing is playing the long game

Is my missile as big as yours? I bet it goes farther and makes a bigger bang. Anything you can do I can do better. Don’t push me too far. I could lose my temper.

The fallout over North Korea’s missile test marks a return to the diplomacy of dumb. The news that its infantile leader, Kim Jong-un, had fired a long-range missile “with the possible potential to reach Alaska”, in the words of an unnamed analyst, has apparently “traumatised America”. Has it really? I thought Americans were made of tougher stuff.

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