China’s top legislator meets N. Korean leader to deepen ties

China's top legislator Zhao Leji met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang on Saturday as they move to further strengthen bilateral ties, according to foreign news media. Zhao is the first high-ranking Chinese official to visit the North since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. In his meeting with the No. 3 official in the Chinese Communist Party, Kim said Pyongyang is "unwaveringly" committed to cementing and further developing its cooperative ties with Beijing. This year, the two countries mark the 75th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations. And they will write a "new chapter" for the relationship, he said. Zhao said China is also adamant about maintaining its traditional friendship with the North and boosting cooperation with its ally. Zhao arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday for his three-day trip in a bid to attend the opening ceremony of the China-DPRK Friendship Year held Friday. North Korea appears to be ramping up high-level exchanges with Beijing, as much as it has been expanding its relationship with Russia, including military cooperation. South Korea said Thursday that Zhao's trip to Pyongyang may lead to a full-fledged recovery in bilateral relations between the two nations. Observers see the possibility of the North Korean leader Kim visiting China later this year for a possible summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. North Korea began resuming exchanges with China, its longtime ally and largest economic benefactor, in a limited manner after partially reopening its border in August last year following its tight COVID-19 border shutdown. Source: Yonhap News Agency