Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced in their New Year greetings that 2024 will be the "year of friendship" between the two countries, Xinhua reported.

In his message, Xi said that the traditional friendship between China and the North, initiated by the former leaders of the two countries and parties, has been "consolidated in the revolutionary struggle" and "continuously deepened in the process of socialist construction".

Emphasizing that the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government have always viewed their relations with North Korea in the new era from a "strategic and long-term perspective", Xi said, "Taking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with North Korea and the China-North Korea Friendship Year as an opportunity, China is ready to work together to deepen long-term friendship and mutual strategic trust, enhance cooperation and interactions, and contribute to regional peace and stability."

In his message, North Korean leader Kim emphasized that 2024, the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, is a critical year, as "socialist construction has entered a new stage of progress" in both countries and "the international situation is undergoing complex changes".

Kim noted that they would like to enhance the traditional friendship and cooperation between the two countries in accordance with the "needs of the times" and in line with the wishes and expectations of the peoples of both countries.

North Korea seeks rapprochement with China and Russia against the US and Japan

After the US has recently increased defense cooperation with South Korea and Japan against the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear program and guided missile tests, North Korea has also taken steps towards strategic rapprochement with Russia and China.

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The Pyongyang administration closed all its borders to the outside world in March 2020 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contacts between China and North Korea resumed on September 9, 2023, when a delegation led by Chinese Vice Premier Liu Guocong visited North Korea to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

On December 17-18, 2023, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Myong Ho visited Beijing and held talks with his Chinese counterpart Sun Veydong and Chinese Foreign Minister Vang Yi.

Vice-Minister Pak had sent a message that North Korea would "continue to strengthen multilateral cooperation with China to safeguard common interests, regional peace and stability."

Apart from China, the Pyonyang administration is also trying to increase dialogue and coordination with Russia through high-level contacts. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Russia's Amur region in September 2023.

It was claimed that the meeting between Kim and Putin could be a step towards military cooperation between the two countries under sanctions.