China is North Korea's largest trade partner as well as their main contributor to foreign aid, it is clear that they are allied to/friendly with North Korea

What does China have to gain by being allied to/friendly with North Korea?

  • 1
    Its a non democratic neighbor whose power is negligible (by comparison with Russia for example). As seen by the Hong Kong protests the current government of China is not leaning towards a less authoritarian rule and has an aggressive expansionist strategy (South China Sea, Doklam, Taiwan, etc.). A post-war, likely democratic, North Korea would be a political and ideological torn. Also there are some historical reasons for their alliance given the similar choice of authoritarian socialism. Russia and China supported North Korea in the Korean War.
    – armatita
    Sep 5, 2017 at 11:31
  • 4
    @Will You mean its not a recent problem. True. The fact remains that Taiwan is an independent nation (for several decades now) not recognized by most countries because they want to continue doing trade with China. So let me put it in another way. I consider an agressive strategy of China not to officially recognize Taiwan independence even if they already are for all intents and purposes for the last 70 years. From the Chinese point of view Taiwan is a province. If that is not agressive, what is?
    – armatita
    Sep 5, 2017 at 15:16
  • 2
    @armatita Republic of China (or Taiwan as you may call it) claims mainland China, Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan as parts of its territories (according to their constitution). Taiwan has never ever been a sovereignty or independent nation, so for either China (ROC or PRC), Taiwan is, de facto, a province. Sep 5, 2017 at 15:35
  • 1
    @xuq01 Not if the gangster was twenty times smaller than you
    – Charlie
    Sep 6, 2017 at 15:15
  • 1
    @Charlie What if the gangster has an automatic rifle (i.e., nuclear weapons)? You might have better (and more) firearms than the thug, but if they fire first, they'll still kill you (or at lest very badly wound you). After all, if NK didn't have nuclear weapons, no one would be really concerned even if China is actually friendly with NK.
    – xuq01
    Sep 6, 2017 at 16:49

4 Answers 4


China likes a barrier between US-allied territory and itself. Before North Korea was the nuclear threat it is today, it was the barrier that the Chinese government wanted.

And I think that China believes that they can make North Korea back into the (somewhat) peaceful 'barrier' if they keep giving them aid and buying stuff from them. Or at least they believe that North Korea won't attack them if they stay 'relatively friendly'.

China may also see solidarity with North Korea regarding shared hardships that both of them have gone through, such as WWII Japanese occupation, or US embargoes during their socialism days.

Another possible reason is that apparently China is fearful of refugees fleeing North Korea and going into China if the Kim regime falls. In that regard, they'd rather preserve the status quo, though they'd definitely rather turn North Korea into the 'barrier' again.

  • 1
    Same reason why Russia freaks out when NATO talks about Poland or Ukraine joining the club, or the USA with Cuba as a potential Soviet Union base in the 1960s. Physical/geographic buffers with perceived enemies = good. Sep 6, 2017 at 13:32

It is as simple as in the relations of the enemy of the enemy.

Looking back at the Korean War, it is not difficult to find the war might have been extended to China if it had not been limited in North Korea. That is the reason China began their assistance to that country. Then came the Cold War, when communist (socialist) countries and capitalist countries formed their respective blocs, and since North Korea and China are self-claimed socialist countries, they have to bond together to establish their images to the world.

In today's China, young people who are influenced by western cultures not less than those who live in the west do not like North Korea as does their own government. And time and again China has felt the small neighbor is out of its control. Kim Jung Un hasn't even paid a visit to China since he came into power 5 years ago, and the distance of the two countries is so close.It is obvious that he does not respect China but that China has no other better approach for the time being to handle this country than maintain the existing relationship.


What CCP gains with N Korea? (CCP is not China and China is not CCP)

  1. North Korea doesn't produce K-pop, a threat to CCP as example non communist produced culture and a most valuable export.
  2. North Korea is friendly and dependent communist country at the border.
  3. No powerful economic competitor like an unified Korea at the border.
  4. No working example of a democracy right on its border for the people of China. CCP is already struggling to fend off K-pop.
  5. No Voice of America or BBC broadcasting right on its border

The same advantage the US has on the other side. Divide and rule.

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review
    – Alexei
    Jul 31, 2022 at 9:21
  • @Alexei From the Chinese point of view this is a very good reason. All the empires and great powers over the world always relied on this to maintain their position.
    – FluidCode
    Jul 31, 2022 at 9:23

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