Chinese leader Xi Jinping told North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un that Beijing was ready to "develop the China-DPRK relations," reports Korean Central News Agency.

Beijing is Pyongyang's most important ally and economic benefactor.
Beijing is Pyongyang's most important ally and economic benefactor. (Reuters Archive)

China's President Xi Jinping has emphasised the importance of cooperation between Beijing and Pyongyang in an unspecified "new situation".

In his message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Xi said Beijing was ready to "develop the China-DPRK relations of friendship and cooperation" under a "new situation", the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Saturday.

KCNA did not further elaborate on what the "new situation" entailed.

North Korea, officially known as the DPRK, carried out an unprecedented seven weapon tests in January, including its most powerful missile since 2017.

Negotiations with the United States is at a standstill.

North Korea paused testing during the Beijing Winter Olympics, with analysts saying the decision could have been made out of deference to China.

READ MORE: China urges 'flexibility' on North Korea to reduce tensions

 Most important ally

Beijing is Pyongyang's most important ally and economic benefactor, their relationship forged in the bloodshed of the Korean War in the 1950s.

North Korea is reeling economically from a self-imposed coronavirus blockade, and restarted cross-border trade with Beijing last month.

China accounts for more than 90 percent of the isolated country's bilateral trade.

Pyongyang is under multiple sets of international sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

But regardless, it has warned it could abandon its self-imposed moratorium and resume testing intercontinental ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons.

Some experts have warned that with the eyes of the world focussed on the Russian attack on Ukraine, North Korea might take the opportunity to test-fire long-range missiles.

READ MORE: Moon warns new long-range missile test by North Korea would spark crisis

Source: AFP