All eyes were on Beijing as the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 18th Party Congress ushered in the Xi Jinping era, forcing Pyongyang to cede the title of most-watched transition in the communist world, and leaving Kim Jong Un no longer the newest ruler of an authoritarian state in East Asia. Xi, along with his six fellow Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) members, will lead a rising China during arguably the most challenging 10-year period since Deng Xiaoping’s Reform and Opening, which set China on its current path. The new Chinese leadership is tasked with navigating through daunting challenges of official corruption, growing socioeconomic inequality, mounting social unrest and a need to rebalance the economy, among a host of other problems. Beyond these pressing issues at home, Xi and his team look out onto a world wielding greater power and influence than the CCP has ever known but also shouldering heavier expectations from the West to play a more constructive role in global affairs.One of the most important foreign policy issues Xi Jinping is expected to confront is North Korea and its nuclear program. While territorial disputes with Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and with Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea greeted Xi on his first day in office, North Korea is one foreign policy curmudgeon that will likely stay with him throughout the next ten years. As Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt noted here earlier this year, China’s North Korea policy appears to have decreasing utility in serving China’s interests. However, Beijing does not seem prepared to abandon its treaty ally once and for all.