Washington and Beijing in 2009 discussed contingencies in North Korea, which was then looking unstable after leader Kim Jong-il suffered a debilitating stroke. The disclosure comes in a recent report titled "China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles" by the U.S. Congressional Research Service.
"When asked on Oct. 4, 2009 whether the United States and China discussed contingencies in North Korea, (then) Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell acknowledged talks about 'every' aspect," the report says.
The report does not say when and where Campbell made the remarks.
The two countries have held various talks about the North Korean nuclear issue but kept discussions about possible regime collapse and other contingencies under wraps due to China's special relations with the regime.
The report concludes the U.S. and China have sharply different interests in case of a sudden change in the North. "Indeed, China seemed to have shifted from pressuring North Korea with the military relationship to propping up the regime's security and survival," it says. "Beijing would not accept an implosion in Pyongyang or watch passively if other countries gain political and military control in North Korea."