China Reaffirms Alliance With North Korea in Bid to Check Biden

A North Korean flag flies at the Embassy of North Korea compound. (Photographer: Samsul Said/Bloomberg)

China Reaffirms Alliance With North Korea in Bid to Check Biden

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China reaffirmed its “traditional friendship” with North Korea, days after they faced new security challenges from an agreement between the U.S. and South Korea that allows Seoul to step up the range and power of its missile arsenal.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met North Korea’s new ambassador to China, Ri Ryong Nam, in Beijing on Thursday, where he reaffirmed China’s stand to maintain “high-level strategic communication,” according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency.

“The two sides also exchanged views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula and agreed to strengthen coordination and cooperation in this regard,” the report said.

The statement came days after U.S. President Joe Biden met South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House as part of his push to build a united front with allies against security threats posed the likes of China and North Korea.

The two agreed to terminate bilateral missile guidelines that have long restricted Seoul’s development of missiles to under the range of 800 kilometers (500 miles.) The end of the guideline puts major Chinese cities under South Korea’s missile range and increases Seoul’s ability to strike North Korea.

Biden and Moon also agreed to work together on easing a shortage of semiconductors that has hampered production of automobiles and electronics, trying to firm up supply chains that aren’t reliant on inputs from China. It was Biden’s second in-person summit since taking office, following a White House meeting in April with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has met Chinese President Xi Jinping five times since becoming leader, with the most recent in June 2019 in Pyongyang.

China, which fought on behalf of Pyongyang during the 1950-53 Korean War, has been North Korea’s biggest benefactor for decades. Beijing has described their relationship as close as “lips and teeth.”

China is North Korea’s most important security and trade partner, for years providing a lifeline that helped keep its neighbor’s struggling economy afloat. Beijing is also a key player for managing the effectiveness of the global sanctions that punish Kim or his nuclear weapons tests in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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