Relationship between North Korea and China
The relationship between North Korea and China has grown over the years since the Chinese Civil War. Both countries share a common history, geopolitical interests, and ideology — all of which form the foundation of the strong bond between the two countries. Led by the ruling communist party, North Korea and China pledge to help each other and work together for the benefit of their people and for the cause of peace and stability in the region.
The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1949. In recent years, North Korea has become increasingly dependent on China for economic and military aid. More than ninety percent of North Korea’s foreign trade is with China and as of 2017, China accounted for 87% of North Korea’s total annual imports, according to the South Korean Ministry of Unification. This economic dependence is further intertwined with China’s military support, especially in the form of food, oil and military hardware. The Chinese military provides the North Korean People’s Army with the bulk of its armaments, and enables it to have the most modern tanks and missiles.
In addition to its political and military ties, the two countries have a complex economic relationship. North Korea is heavily reliant on cheap Chinese imports, including oil, to power its economy. In exchange, North Korea exports cheap raw materials and workers to China. China is North Korea’s largest trading partner, and is also the biggest source of foreign currency. In the past few years, China has provided North Korea with an estimated $40 billion of investments.
Experts suggest that China’s deepening economic ties with North Korea have also had a long-term political impact. China’s support for North Korea’s economic development has been seen as a way to counter US influence in the region. Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, at a 2017 security conference in Seoul, said “China has done its utmost to promote the peace process … and preserving the stability of the Korean Peninsula is in the common interests of China and the US.”
Despite its strong support for North Korea, China has also showed some willingness to join the international community’s pressure against the North Korean regime. In 2017, China imposed new and stricter sanctions on North Korea as part of its effort to pass a UN Security Council resolution targeting the North Korean nuclear program.
North Korea and China in the Global Stage
One of the most important roles China plays in the relationship between North Korea and other countries is that of an intermediary – mediating talks and negotiations between North Korea and various nations. China has been the only country with the clout to bring North Korea to the negotiating table, though it has had limited success in persuading the North Koreans to give up its nuclear program. China is well-positioned to exert its influence in the region, as it has a complicated relationship with all parties involved.
At the same time, China is aware that it cannot solve the North Korean nuclear issue alone. In 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping remarked that peace and security on the Korean Peninsula should be maintained ‘through dialogue and consultation. China has sought to strengthen ties with South Korea as well, to ease tensions and cooperation between the two countries.
China’s desire for regional peace is seen as both a sign of its own rise to power and a way to establish itself as a regional leader. China’s ‘peaceful rise’ has become an integral part of its foreign policy, allowing it to build relations with countries that would otherwise be difficult or unwilling to do business with. It has been suggested that the Chinese government is using its relationship with North Korea as a way to extend its influence in the region and establish itself on the global diplomatic stage.
The Need for Negotiations
The nuclear issue remains one of the most pressing issues in the relationship between North Korea and China. In recent years, multiple attempts have been made to reach a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, with both China and the United States playing an important role. China is seen as a key player in any diplomatic solutions, as it has a unique relationship with both North Korea and the United States.
Despite its attempts to mediate negotiations, the Chinese government has made it clear that it will not put forward any proposals for negotiations. Chinese diplomats have stated that North Korea and the United States must take the initiative to reach a resolution through dialogue and negotiation. Chinese foreign minister Wu Yi expressed the Chinese government’s position in a statement in 2013, saying that “China does not intend to interfere on either side of the nuclear issue, but believes both sides should avoid military confrontation and seek a resolution through dialogue.”
In order for negotiations to lead to a successful resolution, all parties must be willing to make compromises and concessions. Both China and the United States must be willing to make the necessary adjustments in their relationship with North Korea, and all sides must be open to negotiation and compromise.
Impact on the Region
The relationship between North Korea and China has had a major impact on the region in recent years. In particular, the relationship has had an effect on the security situation in the region. North Korea’s belligerence and nuclear ambitions have threatened the stability of the region, with both China and the United States engaging in military exercises and deploying navies to patrol the area. North Korea’s actions have been widely criticized by both China and the United States.
However, the two countries have also worked together, with China offering to serve as a mediator between North Korea and the United States in an attempt to resolve the crisis diplomatically. Despite its strong stance against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, China has stated that it is open to dialogue, disarmament, and a resolution to the diplomatic tensions between North Korea and the United States.
Relationship between North Korea and China in the Future
The future of the relationship between North Korea and China is difficult to predict. The two countries have been closely aligned for decades and have a complex economic and political relationship. However, the recent geopolitical shifts in the region, specifically related to the North Korean nuclear program, have forced the two countries to take a more cautious stance in their relationship.
China appears to be expanding its ties with North Korea, though still wary of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Despite its support for North Korea, China has also taken an active role in attempts at diplomatic solutions to the crisis, seeking to establish a dialogue between North Korea and the United States.
At the same time, North Korea is also trying to diversify its economic and political partners, engaging in more economic and diplomatic collaborations with countries outside of China. Though North Korea still remains heavily reliant on China, increased global focus on the nuclear issue may lead to a wider shift in the way North Korea and China interact in the future.
Social Views in North Korea and China
Within the two countries, various social views have emerged on the relationship between North Korea and China. Generally speaking, most citizens of both countries view the close ties between North Korea and China as beneficial for both countries. North Koreans, for example, view Chinese aid and investment as one of the main sources of stability in their economy. Chinese citizens, in turn, are supportive of the strong ties, seeing it as a symbol of their country’s growing influence on the world stage.
Some citizens of North Korea and China, however, are less enthusiastic about the closeness between the two countries. Many North Koreans openly express their displeasure at how their country relies heavily on Chinese aid and investment, and some Chinese citizens are critical of their government’s unconditional support for North Korea. Despite these criticisms, the majority of citizens view the relationship between North Korea and China positively.
The Role of Culture
The relationship between North Korea and China has been greatly influenced by the shared culture of the two countries. North Koreans have a deep appreciation for Chinese culture, with many North Korean citizens studying classical Chinese poetry, philosophy and literature. The two countries have also collaborated over the years on cultural exchanges, with the two governments launching a joint cultural projects such as the “Peking Opera Festival” in 2019.
Cultural exchange has also allowed the two countries to overcome some of the political divisions between them. North Korean traditional musicians, for example, have performed in Beijing, and North Korean literature has become increasingly popular in China. The shared culture between North Korea and China has strengthened their bond, and helped both countries to maintain close ties despite the political differences between them.
The relationship between North Korea and China is complex and unique. The two countries share a history of cooperation and support, with China providing North Korea with crucial economic and military aid. However, the two countries have also been divided by the nuclear issue, and have had to find a way to balance their relationship.
Though North Korea and China may differ in their political and ideological outlooks, their close ties remain largely intact. The two countries have a shared culture, and North Korea remains heavily reliant on Chinese support. Despite the political differences between them, North Korea and China have looked for ways to move forward towards a peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue. It remains to be seen what the future holds for their relationship.