It wasn’t welcome news for China last year, when it heard North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-un purged his uncle, Jang Song-thaek.
Jang was well known for supporting closer ties with China, especially for Beijing-backed economic reforms.
A year has passed, but China and North Korea relations are still feeling the strain from Jang’s execution. The number of political exchanges between the two countries has fallen sharply. In July, the Chinese president visited South Korea first, skipping a traditional stopover in Pyongyang.
As for their economic ties, the two countries were looking to develop North Korea’s Rason and Hwanggumpyong special economic zones. However, these projects also hit a major speed bump after Jang’s death.
In numbers, China’s trade with North Korea still accounts for most of North Korea’s foreign trade.
As for North Korea’s nuclear test threats, Beijing was unusually bold in its criticism. It agreed to tighten UN Security Council sanctions on the regime.
But while North Korea may be losing China, it’s making friends with Russia.