NKorea, China Vow to Defend Common Interests

    NKorea, China Vow to Defend Common Interests
    Photo: Pool/Getty Images News via Getty Images

    The Facts

    • North Korea and China reportedly agreed to strengthen their defense ties and defend common interests on Friday, as ministers from both countries discussed boosting their tactical cooperation and strategic communication "at all levels."

    • Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Sun Weidong met with his North Korean counterpart Pak Myong Ho in Pyongyang, reportedly reaffirming their "unswerving stance" on developing bilateral ties.

    The Spin

    Pro-North Korea narrative

    China and North Korea are celebrating 75 years of their diplomatic ties. In this context, 2024 has been designated the Year of Friendship by the two nations. Along with Russia, China has always been viewed by North Korea as a close friend amid its run-ins with South Korea and other nations of the West, especially the US. The two East Asian nations growing even closer in these circumstances should not surprise any observer, as both countries have an obligation to band together against potential foreign aggression.

    Anti-North Korea Narrative

    Pyongyang playing truant over nuclear weapons and its constant saber-rattling toward neighboring South Korea and Japan doesn't necessarily align with Beijing's focus on maintaining its long borders. North Korea also doesn't help much in China's maritime disputes and long-term expansion goals, so it's likely China only tolerates the country because it plays well with its own strategic, even if limited, calculations. As long as North Korea behaves within China's red lines, the friendship will continue.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that Kim Jong Un will no longer be the leader of North Korea by September 2045, according to the Metaculus forecasting community.

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