A Chinese Foreign Ministry official stated, “There is no military alliance between China and North Korea,” which is an unexpected statement from China. Ever since North Korea conducted their nuclear test, the once tight military relationship between these two countries does not seem as tight as before.
To the Korean press that visited China, Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Assistant Secretary Liu Jianchao said on June 17, “Making a military alliance as a way to maintain security does not work in this era.”
The statement Liu made overturns the “The Mutual Treaty of Cordiality and Cooperation between China and North Korea” which the two countries entered into in 1961. Article 2 of this Treaty says, “Both parties shall take all measures together to prevent the invasion towards either party from specified countries. If either party is invaded by countries in alliance, the other party should provide military aid at once, turning into a state of war.”
The major speculation on this announcement is that since there is an assumption that China had already discarded this treaty several years ago, it is a way for Chinese authorities to try to keep their distance from North Korea. Sources say that China is overwhelmed by the content of the treaty, which demands the military intervention of the other party in case of attack, because North Korea is in a highly volatile state. China’s state-run China Central Television (CCTV) also mentioned the 50th anniversary of this Treaty in 2011, “The validity of this treaty ends in 2021,” meaning that China can always depart from this treaty at any time.
China may also feel overwhelmed by its role to solve the North Korean nuclear issue, some sources say. Secretary Liu actually said, “The North Korean nuclear issue comes from the relationship between North Korea and the U.S.,” and passed the ball. Hung Lei, the spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, also said to the Korean press, “The key hope [of North Korea] with the nuclear issue is to improve its relationship with the U.S.”
However, the Chinese side still intends to maintain its influence on North Korea. Secretary Liu said, “China and North Korea are maintaining a close relationship, for they are physically close by,” and “They will keep this relationship close with various kinds of exchanges.” Responding to a question about whether the Head of State Xi Jinping visiting Korea early next month can be interpreted as a warning sign against North Korea’s nuclear developments, Secretary Liu said, “On the surface, Si’s visit to Korea is scheduled earlier than his visit to North Korea,” and “No significance should be placed on this event, and China values both relationships, whether it’s between North Korea or South Korea.”