The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's top leader Kim Jong-un, who is also chairman of the country's State Affairs Commission, congratulated Xi Jinping for being unanimously re-elected the president of China on Saturday.
Kim said he believes DPRK-China relations will develop in a direction that conforms to the common interests of the two peoples, which shows Beijing and Pyongyang still attach high value to their relationship.
The congratulatory message sent by Kim immediately after Xi's re-election has broken the illusion that China-DPRK ties have suffered serious damage. True, China-DPRK ties cooled down after Beijing strongly opposed Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests in the recent past. But Beijing still hopes Pyongyang will strike the right balance between national security and development. China also intends to maintain the traditional friendship with the DPRK.
It's a good sign that since they re-established contacts before the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in the Republic of Korea last month, Pyongyang and Seoul have been promoting talks to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue. The DPRK plans to hold a bilateral summit with the ROK in April, and is trying to organize a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in May.
The international community, including China, has welcomed the positive change in US-DPRK relations after the military provocations between the two countries raised fears of an impending war. But the positive developments on the US-ROK-DPRK front have made some people wrongly assume that the DPRK would keep China away from the ensuing peninsula talks.
The fact is, China-DPRK relations will not be easily affected given the two sides' long-lasting friendship and common interests as neighbors. Besides, Trump told Xi during a phone call on March 9 that the US appreciates China's efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, and stressed that he was willing to strengthen communication and coordination with China over the issue.
Before Pyongyang and Seoul re-established contacts, which paved the way for a possible meeting between Kim and Trump, the international community, especially China, made a lot of efforts to ease the tensions on the peninsula. Despite the numerous challenges it faced, China adhered to the policy of resolving the peninsula issue through peaceful talks, and employed every possible diplomatic means to persuade the US and the DPRK, the vital players in the peninsula issue, back to the negotiation table.
China also proposed a "dual suspension" formula－the DPRK suspending its nuclear and missile tests in exchange for the US and the ROK suspending their major military drills－as a first step toward resolving the peninsula nuclear issue.
The process of denuclearizing the peninsula will be long, but China will continue to shoulder its part of the responsibility and spare no efforts to realize a peaceful outcome.
Also, China-DPRK relations are important for maintaining a peaceful atmosphere on the peninsula, even though the two countries have to resolve some problems. Since all countries are members of a community of shared future, no country should seek to strengthen its national security at the cost of others.
But it is the responsibility of not only China and the DPRK, but also other countries in Northeast Asia to make sustained efforts to work out a security mechanism to break the vicious cycle of "strategic worries" in the region, which has formed because of the atmosphere of mutual distrust over the years.
Such a mechanism is needed to promote mutual trust among Northeast Asian countries, and make them more willing to contribute to mutual development.
The author is a professor at the School of Northeast Asia Studies, Shandong University.