With China pressuring Taiwan, Russia eyeing Ukraine, and Iran pushing forward with Nuclear goals, and the Biden Administration signaling an isolationist worldview abroad, the World of international politics is heating at a rate that would outpace climate change at this point. In this rapidly heating climate of relations between nations is North Korea and China and their somewhat complicated relationship.


What Happened to North Korea?

China-North Korea border map
North Korea – China border. US DOS / Wikimedia Commons

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) or North Korea and China have an evolving relationship that spans thousands of year. The two countries share a common border and have been allies since 1961. They have been at odds about North Korea’s nuclear program. How did they get so close? And what’s the importance of trade between the two nations?

China and North Korea began as allies during the Korean conflict which saw hundreds of thousands of Chinese communist troops fighting on the side of North Korea.  Given the prior annihilation of the North Korean Army by UN forces led by the United States, communist Chinese troops comprised most of the forces the North Koreans were fighting with. Then the late 1950s saw relations between the two grow frosty as the Soviet Union angled for influence in North Korea with men, arms and economic assistance trying to sideline the Chinese communists in the bargain. At the time, China and the USSR were somewhat at odds themselves.  The Soviets wanted China to see Moscow as the Supreme Soviet and leader of the worldwide worker’s revolution the Kremlin was fomenting while China saw itself and Maoism as the truest expression of Communism. They saw China as its own sphere of influence in Asia and did not want to submit to control from Moscow.  This in turn led China to seek closer relationships with South Korea to counter growing Russian influence in the North. Then in 1961, North Korea and China signed a treaty that would serve as a “springboard for friendship.” So how does this current conflict affect their trade relationship?