China has long been seen as North Korea’s chief defender.

Their economic aid props up the brutal communist government.

But their response to North Korea’s latest missile launch shook the world to its core.

North Korea committed what many believed to be an act of war when they test fired a missile that flew over Japan.

While the missile never threatened Japan or the United States, North Korea violated their sovereignty by launching a weapon into their airspace.

Many observers were waiting to see China’s response.

A spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry declared the crisis was “at a tipping point.”

Channel News Asia reports:

“China warned that tensions on the Korean peninsula have reached “tipping point” after North Korea Tuesday (Aug 29) fired a ballistic missile over Japan, but said the United States and South Korea are partly to blame.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying urged all sides to avoid provocations and repeated Beijing’s call for the North to suspend missile tests in return for a halt to US-South Korean military exercises.

The situation is “now at a tipping point approaching a crisis. At the same time there is an opportunity to reopen peace talks,” Hua told a regular news briefing.

“We hope relevant parties can consider how we can de-escalate the situation on the peninsula and realise peace and stability on the peninsula,” she added.”

China has propped up the North Korean government through trade because they fear its collapse.

Should Kim Jong Un’s government fall, millions of North Korean refugees could flood into China.

But China has taken a different tact in recent months.

Beijing joined the United States in a 15-0 vote at the United Nations to impose one billion dollars worth of economic sanctions on North Korea for their continuing work on their nuclear weapons program.

And when Kim Jong Un threatened to launch missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam, China declared that if North Korea did so, they would be on their own in any military conflict with the United States.

North Korea backed down after Donald Trump tweeted that U.S. military options were “locked and loaded” should Pyongyang fire missiles at Guam.

Trump responded to North Korea firing a ballistic missile over Japan by declaring that all options are on the table.

But there aren’t many provocations left for North Korea to carry out before full conflict breaks out.

China is correct in noting that this is a tipping point.

Either North Korea will come to its senses and enter negotiations to end their nuclear program, or World War 3 may very well break out.