Pyongyang attaches the greatest importance to its diplomatic ties with Beijing as it implements "economic improvement", experts said following a meeting between the top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and a visiting senior Chinese official.
DPRK leader Kim Jong-un met with Wang Jiarui, head of the International Department of Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, on Thursday to discuss strengthening relations between the two countries, according to a report on Thursday by Xinhua News Agency.
Kim said Pyongyang will cooperate with Beijing to elevate their friendship, which was established and nurtured by previous leaders.
China views its relationship with the DPRK from a strategic and long-term perspective and will not waver in its effort to maintain friendly cooperation, Wang replied.
"We are ready to work jointly with the DPRK side to maintain high-level contacts, strengthen exchanges, and boost practical cooperation," he said.
Wang Junsheng, an expert of East Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Kim is now shifting his attention to diplomacy by highlighting the strength of DPRK-China relations.
"Ties with Beijing are Pyongyang's top diplomatic priority," Wang said, adding that there is a "great possibility" the senior CPC official will invite Kim to visit China.
During their meeting, Kim said that developing the DPRK's economy and improving the people's livelihood was the government's goal.
"The DPRK has been facing economic difficulties for many years. It needs to balance economic reform with stability. I think after taking office, Kim is sending an obvious signal that he wants to change, be approachable and turn his attention to his people's livelihood, " Wang said.
Huang Youfu, an expert of Korean studies at Minzu University of China in Beijing, echoed Wang's assessment and added that the DPRK is undergoing "economic improvement".
"Pyongyang is not simply copying China's experience. They hope to develop their economy without China's economic reforms," Huang said, citing information from people from the DPRK and Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the WPK, which has suggested that the nation's economy is shifting its concentration from quantity to quality.
"The droughts and floods earlier this year have left the country no other choice. And I think Kim, as a young leader, has the courage to walk the path toward reform," Huang said.
Xinhua contributed to this story.
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