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EDITORIAL: China must restrain N. Korea's Kim Jong Il

As the growing Korean community on Long Island looks on in horror and investors fret about the impact of the North-South confrontation in Korea, there are no easy answers to the burning question: What can be done about North Korea's attack on a South Korean ship, killing 46? At least China, this irrational regime's prime protector, could stop playing attorney for a serial killer and start acting more like the respected world power it aspires to be.

In 1987, North Korean agents blew up Korean Air Flight 858. Now it's an actual military clash - the bloodiest encounter since 1953. An international investigation found the smoking gun: parts of the North Korean torpedo that sank the Cheonan on March 26. No one accepts the North's denial.

Why did Pyongyang attack? One theory: It was a show of strength, to ease the transition from Kim Jong Il to his youngest son, Kim Jong Un. Another: The weak navy flexed its muscle to avenge a losing 2009 skirmish. But no one knows.

In a speech Monday, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak said he's cutting off trade and restricting sea lanes. He promised "proactive deterrence" and will restart propaganda broadcasts. There will be South Korean-U.S. exercises. And the crisis will go to the UN Security Council, where China has a veto.

Sanctions and diplomacy don't work with this regime. And major military action against a nuclear rogue nation is dangerous. Only China can curb the madness, and it must try. hN