October 20, 2021

Ties that bind: Geopolitics, not socialism, underpin North Korea-China alliance

Strategic cooperation against the democratic world links traditional allies as they prepare to reaffirm 1961 treaty

The relationship between the “hermit kingdom” of North Korea and economic giant China continues to be difficult to comprehend. Though their alliance goes back decades, tensions over the past few years have rebranded them more as “bitter allies” than traditional friends.

Next month, however, the two countries are set to reaffirm their Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, signed on July 11, 1961 and renewed every 20 years since. The military and security alliance outlined under Article II of the treaty has made their relationship a defining one for regional security.