...for an invasion, or at least a military build-up prior to an invasion.
Readers here will note I have maintained there is a high probability that China deems its annoying Eastern neighbor as expendable, in both economic and (communist) doctrinal measures, and moves to perform a "peacekeeping" operation that will serve as a tune-up for its conventional armed forces.
This escalation at the border (over something that must have happened multiple times in the past) at this juncture is very telling.
China says a North Korean border guard shot and killed three people near the countries' border last week.
A fourth person was reportedly injured in the incident near the north-eastern border town of Dandong.
China has made a formal complaint to North Korea, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said.
The two countries are considered to be close allies and Beijing rarely makes any public criticism of its isolated neighbour.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news conference in Beijing that the four residents of Dandong, in Liaoning province, had been shot "on suspicion of crossing the border for trade activities".
"China attaches great importance to that and has immediately raised a solemn representation with the DPRK," he said, using North Korea's full name (Democratic People's Republic of Korea).
Mr Qin said the case was being investigated, but gave no further details. Pyongyang has not commented on the accusations.
Illegal traders regularly cross the border between North Korea and China, taking black market goods into the impoverished country.
China is North Korea's main trading partner and the country perceived to have the most influence on the state.