Beijing is willing to work with Pyongyang for world peace and stability. This is what Chinese President Xi Jinping told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said so in a report on Saturday.

Days after North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), in its most powerful test yet, the country announced it would counter a perceived nuclear threat from the United States with its own nuclear weapons.

North Korea has conducted a record-breaking burst of missile launches in recent weeks. As a result, the fear that the country is preparing for the seventh nuclear test for the first time since 2017 is intensifying.

In a message to Kim, Xi said Beijing was ready to work together “for regional and world peace, stability, development and prosperity”.

Xi said he was willing to cooperate with Pyongyang because “the world, time and history are changing in an unprecedented way,” KCNA reported, citing a message received in response to Kim’s congratulations after the Chinese Communist Party congratulated him. Congress gave Xi a third term last month.

Days before North Korea’s ICBM launch, Xi met US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. He said with confidence that Beijing does not want to see Pyongyang grow.

Washington has said it wants China, Pyongyang’s most important ally and economic benefactor, to use its influence to rein in North Korea.

The UN Security Council convened an open meeting with the US, UK, France and India among 14 countries to ‘strongly condemn’ Pyongyang’s actions. But a Western diplomat told AFP that China and Russia had decided not to name them in Monday’s statement.

Earlier this month, the US accused Beijing and Moscow of shielding Pyongyang from punishment. In May, China and Russia vetoed a US-led effort to tighten sanctions on North Korea in response to a previous launch.

Pyongyang is already under multiple international sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. China contributes more than 90 percent of the impoverished country’s bilateral trade.

(26 November)