A number of North Korea-related events have come under the spotlight of the international media lately. The country's State Merited Chorus and Moranbong Band embarked on their China tour Thursday, and will give performances in Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts. It is widely considered a signal of furthering warming relations between China and North Korea.
Also on Thursday, the US was expected to urge the UN Security Council to refer the North Korean human rights situation to the International Criminal Court. Both China and Russia will probably not support the Security Council in doing so, and there is a great possibility that it will be vetoed.
Furthermore, the Korean Central News Agency reported the same day that during North Korean leader Kim Jong-un
's recent inspection tour, he said his country has become a powerful nuclear weapons state, and is "ready to detonate a self-reliant A-bomb and H-bomb to reliably defend its sovereignty and the dignity of the nation."
The outside world mostly believes that the country's nuclear capability is quite limited, and its claims are exaggerated. With the fourth anniversary of former leader Kim Jong-il's death coming, Kim Jong-un may have made the remarks in order to boost the nation's morale.
As long as the North does not engage in any more nuclear testing, there is room for improvement in Beijing-Pyongyang ties. Otherwise, a new round of international sanctions will emerge, which will inevitably create a negative influence on Sino-North Korean relations.
The relationship between the two is moving forward with traditional friendship as a driving force, yet also with the shadow of the North Korea nuclear issue overhead, which is an unusual test. A friendly relationship is of important significance for both sides, and has a positive effect on easing the nuclear issue.
Pyongyang is under huge strategic pressure from Seoul and Washington. The challenges it is confronting will not be solved by simply owning nuclear weapons. Friendly ties with China have provided a crucial external support for the nation's long-term stability. It is impossible for a clean break to happen between the two, and this is becoming increasingly clear.
Public opinion in South Korea and the West often predicts that the Beijing-Pyongyang relationship will take a bad turn given their divergences. However, the bilateral bond is not forged by minor details, but has strong strategies within. History and geopolitics are driving them together, instead of pulling them apart.
As the troupes departed Pyongyang, Kim Ki-nam, secretary of the Workers' Party, and Li Jinjun, Chinese ambassador to North Korea, waved them off at the train station. This is not a just a normal cultural exchange, but a special way of expressing goodwill to each other.
Both Chinese and North Korean societies should take this opportunity to relive their traditional friendship, and ponder the complexity of resolving the North Korea nuclear issue. How the issue will end up is hard to predict, but it should be peaceful. It's wrong to presume it can be solved by pressure from China alone.