Amid Strained Ties, North Korea Congratulates China on Party Congress

October 18, 2017 Updated: October 18, 2017

North Korea congratulated China on its 19th Communist Party Congress on Wednesday (October 18) amid increasingly frayed relations between the traditional allies, as China tightens sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.

The central committee of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea said that China had made “great progress in accomplishing the cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told journalists at a daily news briefing in Beijing that many foreign political parties, organisations and dignitaries had sent their congratulations, including the Workers’ Party of Korea.

Officials and experts in South Korea had worried that Pyongyang may conduct a weapons test to coincide with the opening of the twice-a-decade congress in Beijing. However, there was no sign of that as Chinese President Xi Jinping gave his opening speech this Wednesday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

On April 5, North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile just a day before the first summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

A woman walks past a television screen showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul on April 5, 2017. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

China, Pyongyang’s sole major ally and which accounts for more than 90 percent of world trade with the isolated country, has said it will strictly enforce U.N. Security Council sanctions banning imports of coal, textiles and seafood, while cutting off oil shipments to the North.

China‘s Commerce Ministry also said that, following the latest U.N. sanctions passed on Sept. 12, North Korean firms in China and joint ventures in China and overseas would be shut down by January.