As Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping officially renewed his term as the head of state, his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un sent a congratulatory letter, saying he hoped to further develop ties between the two communist nations.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s state-owned media organization, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), reported Sunday the letter Kim sent following the successful reelection of Xi, who is now slated to rule China for another five years.

“The 20th Congress of the CPC offered a significant landmark for the Chinese party and people in propelling the historic process of the Chinese nation’s great prosperity under the banner of the socialist idea with the Chinese characteristics in the new era,” Kim wrote.

“I, together with you, will shape more a beautiful future of the DPRK-China relations meeting the demand of the times and lead the endeavours for its realisation so as to continue to powerfully propel the socialist cause in the two countries.”

DPRK-China Relations

It’s no secret how these two communist-led countries have kept cordial relationships throughout the years, despite having a rather bad history. As China worked on dominating its close surrounding neighbors, North Korea took the necessary initiative to counterbalance the former’s influence. The latter’s defiance against the former’s policy preferences became somewhat a frustration and concern on how Pyongyang might align with the Western countries.

But, the contrary happened, which has been made clear since the late 2010s when China and North Korea used “their relationship to generate leverage and diplomatic advantage in their individual negotiations with the United States.” Nonetheless, the gap and undeniable distrust caused by resentment and crumbs from having a cracked bilateral relationship between the two countries remain evident.

It has been a back-and-forth between these two, with the worst by far happening in 2016-2017 when North Korea launched its notorious Nuclear and Missile Tests, with some analysts pointing out how Pyongyang seemingly designed the timing “to purposely embarrass or anger Beijing.”

In a thorough research report done by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) released earlier this year, it mentioned that out of the 20 missile tests Pyongyang conducted in 2017, one occurred a day before former US President Donald Trump and Xi’s summit in Florida that April and another right before the Belt and Road Forum commenced in Beijing the following month, to name a few.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, China again made efforts to repair its ties with North Korea throughout 2020 and early 2021, despite the latter’s immediate border shutdown against the former to protect itself against the virus. According to financial reports, the trade between the two nations fell by more than 80 percent in 2020, but some evidence suggested that Pyongyang and Beijing maintained informal trading and that the latter continued to violate the existing sanctions imposed by the United Nations on the former.

Hence, despite the friendly smiles these communist-led countries share, North Korea continues to pursue its own interests and maintain its autonomy against power-hungry China.

Putin Congratulates Xi

Meanwhile, Russian Vladimir Putin also congratulated Xi for securing yet another term as the general secretary of the CCP, wishing his counterpart “prosperity and new success.”

Likewise, Putin looked forward to further developing a “comprehensive partnership” between Moscow and Beijing. As you may recall, both leaders signed a “no limits” partnership agreement earlier this year, just three weeks before Russia launched its “special military operations” in Ukraine.

“Dear Mr. Xi Jinping, please accept my warmest congratulations on your reelection as General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The results of the 20th Anniversary Congress of the CPC have fully confirmed your high political authority, as well as the unity of the party you lead,” the telegram said, as reported by TASS.

The aggression Putin helmed against its neighbor had made Xi take careful tread apart from the occasional criticism against the Western sanctions imposed on Russia. Despite expressing support, China did not extend its endorsement nor send assistance to aid Putin’s military campaign against Kyiv.

Then, last month, when Putin and Xi met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the former said he understood the latter’s “questions and concerns” regarding the situation in Ukraine, which surprised many for the Kremlin leader’s disclosure on their disparities over the war.

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Over the recent years, Moscow has strengthened its alliance with Beijing and become a key geopolitical and economic partner – especially right now, amid the challenges it has been facing for the last eight months due to Western sanctions and isolation.

In his statement, Putin added that he is confident that the reappointment of Xi would play a significant role in strengthening “China’s position in the international arena” and making the country’s “large-scale social and economic” plans into reality.

“I will be glad to continue our constructive dialogue and close joint work to develop comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation between our countries. From the bottom of my heart, I wish you, dear friend, new achievements in your important activities, good health and well-being,” Putin said.