What is US$40 million to the world’s second largest economy? The number, while not insignificant, is merely a sliver of the nearly US$6 billion in annual bilateral trade between China and its mercurial neighbor, North Korea. Yet the recent news that Beijing and Pyongyang are at loggerheads over a quashed deal to build a Chinese-backed mine across the border has been the latest setback in a series of disagreements between the two. Earlier this week, the New York Times released a report detailing the fallout from a failed business relationship between Chinese mining giant Xiyang and authorities in North Korea. According to Xiyang officials, North Korea attempted to renegotiate its contract with the company about the mine after the fact in order to provide more financial incentives to the government officials helping to run the site.