It is the second message of support for China. Pyongyang is politically and economically dependent on Beijing. Collapse in trade between the two regimes. Kim needs Chinese goods to modernize his country.

UCA News reporter

Updated: February 26, 2021 03:19 AM GMT

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un congratulated Chinese President Xi Jinping on China’s successes in the fight against coronavirus, Pyongyang’s official KNA agency revealed yesterday.

Kim had already sent a message to his powerful neighbor in late January, immediately after Beijing had decided to raise the alarm for the disease. In it he expressed his support for Xi, offering aid.

The North Korean regime claims there are no infections in the country. However, it immediately closed the borders with China, where the pandemic exploded, also adopting strict quarantine measures for incoming goods.

This decision worsened Pyongyang’s already difficult economic situation as it grapples with an international embargo on its nuclear and missile activities. China is essentially its only commercial partner, on which it depends for the supply of a large number of goods, especially energy.

According to the 38 North website, trade between North Korea and China fell 24% year-on-year in the first two months of 2020. North Korean exports plummeted 74% to $ 10 million; Chinese imports have dropped from $ 240 million to $ 198 million.

The pandemic crisis has effectively stopped the North Korean supply chain. Kim is reliant on the Chinese leadership’s support (including political) to economically keep his country afloat.

Daily NK, which first launched the news of Kim’s alleged illness, reports the resumption of some links between North Korea and China. In particular, it refers Chinese freight trains that transport iron and steel in violation of the embargo decreed by the United Nations. The material would be used for the construction of a new hospital in the North Korean capital, one of the major infrastructure projects announced by Kim in recent months.

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