Is North Korea Friends With China

Historical Relations

North Korea and China have long shared a strong relationship. Historically, the two countries have long-standing diplomatic ties spanning many decades. China and North Korea first established diplomatic relations in 1948 and have since maintained a strong bond in both political and economic affairs. It is estimated that around 80% of North Korean external trade originates from China. This bilateral relationship was further cemented in 1961 when the two countries signed a treaty of friendship, coordination and mutual assistance.

Political Support

China has been a key ally of North Korea and has stood behind it since the beginning. In particular, China has provided the North with both moral and economic support, a sentiment that is reciprocated by Pyongyang. Over the decades, there has been an active measure of political and military support from Beijing for Pyongyang, including direct economic and financial aid, with China providing food, energy and other humanitarian assistance when needed.

China as a Mediator

In recent years, Beijing has offered to mediate between North Korea and the US and other regional powers in order to ease tensions and facilitate a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis. In addition, China has also publicly spoken in favor of a “dual suspension” policy, in which both North Korea and the US would simultaneously cease further nuclear activities and start negotiations.

Sino-NK Friendship

It is clear that North Korea and China have a strong and friendly relationship which has been further fortified by the years. Today, China is one of the few countries that have open diplomatic ties with North Korea and is an active supporter of many of its initiatives. Naturally, in exchange, Pyongyang remains a loyal partner to Beijing, further strengthening the friendly bond between the two nations.

Economic Factors

Experts have argued that Chinese trade is essential to the North Korean economy, as it provides the country with access to much-needed resources and merchandise. China is also known to be one of the largest importers of North Korean coal and other minerals, which has provided Pyongyang with a much-needed source of income.

China’s Influence

Taking into consideration both the historical and current relations between China and North Korea, it is evident that Beijing has considerable influence over Pyongyang. For the most part, China has managed to maintain friendly relations with the Kim regime despite all the international pressure, offering an alternative means of communication between the hermit kingdom and the outside world.

International Limitations

Nevertheless, the Sino-North Korean relationship has encountered a number of diplomatic hurdles, most recently due to sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council, of which Beijing is a permanent member. In this sense, China has been largely limited by the international pressure to limit its support and diplomatic ties with Pyongyang, which goes to show the strong influence of international politics in this particular relationship.

Domestic Policies

At the domestic level, China has also made a number of changes in order to address the various strains in the Sino-North Korean relationship. For instance, Beijing has introduced a number of economic and trade incentives in order to attract greater North Korean investment, particularly in industries like tourism and technology.

The Future of Relations

Looking ahead, it remains difficult to ascertain what the future holds for the Sino-North Korean relationship given the current tensions. Nevertheless, it is clear that China will continue to remain a key ally of North Korea as the two countries have shared a close bond for many decades and will likely continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

Cassie Grissom is an American journalist and author living in Seoul, South Korea. She has been studying the Korean peninsula since 2011, and her work focuses on understanding human rights issues in North Korea. In addition to her work as an author, Cassie is an active advocate for human rights in North Korea. She regularly shares stories about life in North Korea with international audiences to raise awareness of the plight of its citizens.

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