Deng Yuwen shocked analysts of Asian geopolitics at the end of February when he penned a highly critical essay entitled “China should abandon North Korea” for the Financial Times. It was a shocker because Deng Yuwen is no liberal critic of China’s curious relationship with Pyongyang—he’s the deputy editor of the Study Times, a weekly magazine at the Central Party School, which trains the next generation of Communist Party officials.Deng, who has a reputation for being outspoken, has since paid a heavy price for his boldness. On Monday, during an interview with a South Korean newspaper, he acknowledged that the Party had suspended him from his position, and he doesn’t know when—or if—he will be given another job.Deng’s provocative article for the FT, together with China’s support for harsher sanctions on North Korea, led to some speculation that China was considering abandoning the Norks. But Deng’s removal suggests that won’t be the case right away—though the Kim family retainers in Pyongyang are probably scratching their heads over the mixed signals still coming from Beijing. If you say the wrong thing in North Korea you are likely to have a tragic car accident that leaves a bullet hole in the back of your head; the Norks will be wondering if Deng’s suspension (with pay) isn’t a sign that the official displeasure is not all that strong.Beijing probably isn’t ready to write the Norks off just yet, but it doesn’t mind keeping Pyongyang on its toes.