Chinese President Xi Jinping has reportedly doubled down on his country's relationship with North Korea, saying he attached "great importance" to the association between the two nations.
Xi was cited on Saturday by North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency as saying, "The world, the times, and history are now changing in an unprecedented way," Bloomberg reported. The Chinese president added, "Under the new situation, I am ready, together with you, to make a fresh and positive contribution to provide the peoples of our two countries with greater well-being."
Xi's reported remarks come amidst heightened tensions between the two countries and the rest of the world. North Korea has continually launched a series of missile tests in recent weeks, including some that were detected by Japan near the Korean Peninsula. Another test from the hermit state reportedly saw the use of an intercontinental ballistic missile that had the potential to reach the U.S. mainland.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has maintained a close alliance with Xi over the years, and sent him a message following his re-election as China's leader saying he hoped to strengthen their bond. The pair previously met in a series of secret meetings in 2018 and 2019 to discuss various topics.
While North Korea remains a significant threat, China has also seen rising competition with Western powers in recent years, particularly the United States. Chinese officials told the South China Morning Post that competition between China and the U.S. was "inevitable" due to tech races between the countries.