China is considering whether to change tactics in its relations with North Korea, "which is becoming increasingly unpredictable since Kim Jong-un came to power," Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported Sunday.
"Contact between Beijing and Pyongyang under the younger Kim is not as high profile as under his father Kim Jong-il," Cai Jian of Fudan University's Centre for Korean Studies in Shanghai told the daily.
"On some occasions, Beijing even had to rely on information from non-governmental organizations and politicians from Seoul."
This has made it "difficult for Beijing to make accurate judgments about the situation in Pyongyang and to formulate its strategy," he added.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has sent two delegations to the North over the past month, including one led by Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin.
That it is sending officials from the Foreign Ministry, instead of the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee, implies a change in relations with the North, pundits say.
"Communications with the International Department usually stresses more on the relationship between the ruling parties … and that usually conveys a sense that the two are brothers or allies," the daily quoted Cai as saying. "With the involvement of the Foreign Ministry, it is more like nation-to-nation routine exchanges."