North Korea and China have sustained a close relationship for more than half a century. In 1949, they first recognized each other diplomatically and China helped North Korea out militarily. They share a border that runs over 1,400km and are frequent trade partners.
So, exactly how strong is the current relationship between China and North Korea?
Well, in 1961, both nations signed the “Sino-North Korean Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance”, which made them official allies. This treaty has since been extended, once in 1981 and again in 2001. As it stands now, The Treaty of Friendship won’t expire until the year 2021. And both nations have a history of taking this treaty seriously.
China, who sits on the UN Security Council, has a history of vetoing any UN activity that would negatively impact North Korea.
The two countries also share a strong trade relationship.
- About 67% of all of North Korea’s exports go to China and over 61% of all its imports come from China. These numbers soar above their next two closest trade partners, South Korea and India.
- At times, China has also been the chief provider of food and energy to North Korea. Obviously, North Korea appears to be benefiting more from this relationship than China.
Well, for one, they get a buffer zone between them and U.S.-allied South Korea, where tens of thousands of American military soldiers are stationed. Plus, China is already dealing with a North Korean refugee problem.
In fact, they had to put up a barbed wire fence in 2006 to stem the tide of refugees. The fear now is that if North Korea were to collapse, China would have to deal with a large wave of refugees. So, it’s in their best interest to keep North Korea going.
Allies Might Broke Up!!!
However, there are major signs that this relationship is changing. Most of which involve North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. After North Korea conducted its third nuclear test, China publically condemned their actions. China also allowed a UN resolution against the North Korean tests, refusing to use their veto power on North Korea’s behalf.
According to some experts, this marks a significant rupture in China’s alliance with North Korea. Since then, both countries have sent more military to their shared border. North Korea reportedly sent tanks, armored infantry, sharpshooters and rocket launchers. Even with the tensions, many think China will always bail out and support North Korea.
Not until, leaked documents may show that isn’t necessarily the case. The documents outline a plan for dealing with North Korean leaders, military, and civilians after the fall of their country. Add to this, a planned fourth North Korean nuclear test and their decades long friendship may finally come to an end.