Pyongyang, Beijing vow strong friendly ties: KCNA

High-ranking officials from North Korea and China attended the opening ceremony of the "year of DPRK-China friendship" in Pyongyang to bolster their ongoing relations, Pyongyang's state media said Saturday. Choe Ryong-hae, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK, and Zhao Leji, chairman of the National People's Congress of China, attended the ceremony at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre on Friday to mark the 75th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. In a speech, Choe reaffirmed the "unshakable will to further develop the traditional relations of friendship and cooperation with socialism as the core," the KCNA said. Choe stressed that the bilateral relations are valuable and precious not only because the two countries are geographically close but also because they have been forged in the struggle for the common cause. Zhao was quoted as saying "the traditional China-DPRK friendship ... has tak en deeper root and become more durable and precious no matter the ever-changing international situation." He also stressed it is "the consistent strategic policy of the Chinese party and government to successfully defend, consolidate and develop the traditional China-DPRK friendly relations," according to the KCNA. The two officials enjoyed celebratory performances and later joined the artists on stage to greet them and take photos together, the report said. Zhao, who arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday for a three-day visit, is the first high-ranking Chinese official to visit North Korea since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. North Korea began resuming exchanges with China, its longtime ally and largest economic benefactor, in a limited manner after partially opening its border in August last year following its tight COVID-19 border shutdown. During his visit, Zhao is expected to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Source: Yonhap News Agency