China and North Korea to cooperate under ‘new situation’ — Analysis

Chinese President Xi Jinping said “friendship and cooperation” with Pyongyang would be strengthened

Chinese President Xi Jinping has underlined the importance of his country’s relationship with North Korea due to an unspecified “new situation,” Korean media reported on Saturday, citing Pyongyang’s state outlet KCNA.

The publication shared a message from Xi to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un stating that Beijing was prepared to “Develop the China-DPRK friendship and cooperation relations” under a “new situation.” The statement offered no details and it’s unclear whether Xi was referring to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The cryptic announcement comes on the same day Beijing hit out at Washington for sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait for the first time since November, a move the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command described as “provocative” – but which the US insisted was merely a “Regular” journey through international waters. 

North Korea in ‘phase of provocation,’ US says after Asian allies meeting

Some in the US have suggested Beijing may strike to take Taiwan, which it considers its own territory, while Washington is focused on Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine.

North Korea resumed cross-border commerce with China last month. It released some of the economic tension caused by an unofficial coronavirus blockade. China is responsible for 90% of the sanctions-stricken nation’s bilateral trade, and some believe Kim deliberately held off on testing missiles during the recent Beijing Winter Olympics out of deference to the country. 

The pause came after seven missile test in January. This was amid an impasse in US negotiations. North Korea has previously warned it would not negotiate with the US until it curtails its “hostile policies” including sanctions.

Pyongyang instead appears to be putting its effort into hypersonic missile development like China’s neighbor and has threatened to resume its paused ICBM/nuke testing.

North Korea, distracted by Russia’s and China’s interests, is now ready to face the US.

KCNA has described the hypersonic system, which Kim has already tested, as the most significant part of the country’s next “5-year plan” to expand its military force and increase its “war deterrent” powers. South Korea has acknowledged the new missiles as “Advance,” while Japan’s defense minister described it as “Hypersonic” and spoke of strengthening his country’s own defenses. 

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