North Korean state-media on Thursday reported that the country’s leader Kim Jong-un visited the cemetery of Chinese soldiers who fell during the 1950-53 Korean War, to mark the anniversary of their participation in the conflict.
It appears to be in line with Kim’s push to further strengthen bilateral ties with China at a time when the North is in need of support from the ally amid stagnant economic growth and stalled nuclear negotiations with the United States, Yonhap news agency reported.
Kim visited “the martyrs of the Chinese People’s Volunteers (CPV) in Hoechang County, South Pyongan Province, and paid a high tribute to them on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the entry of the Chinese People’s Volunteers into the Korean front,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
Hoechang is where the headquarters of the Chinese soldiers was located during the war.
“He said with deep emotion that even though 70 years have passed since the excellent sons and daughters of the fraternal Chinese people made an entry into the sacred Fatherland Liberation War fought by the Korean people, the immortal exploits and heroic feats made by the CPV by sacrificially supporting us… remain vividly in the memory of our people.” the KCNA added.
Kim lauded the participation of Chinese soldiers in the Korean War as a “historic contribution to the great victory in the Fatherland Liberation War.”
“The great victory won by the armies and peoples of the North and China while linking their destiny as one and sharing weal and woe with each other is, indeed, of great significance no matter how much water flows under the bridge,” Kim was quoted as saying.
He then paid tribute to Mao Anying, the son of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who died in the conflict, and a floral basket was laid at his grave, the KCNA said.
In July 2013, Kim visited the cemetery and paid tribute to the fallen Chinese soldiers to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean armistice agreement that ended the war, followed by another visit in 2018 to mark the 65th anniversary.
“The difference this year is that they marked the 70th anniversary of China’s participation in the war,” he added.
The North has been seeking to maintain closer ties with its traditional ally amid an impasse in nuclear negotiations with Washington.
Earlier this week, Kim pledged to further boost friendly relations with China in a reply message to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who sent a congratulatory letter to Kim to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party.