North Korean leader Kim Jong Un congratulated Chinese President Xi Jinping on his appointment to a third term in office Sunday, saying he looks forward to a “beautiful future” for the two countries.
Xi secured his unprecedented third 5-year term at the end of the 20th Chinese Communist Party congress on Saturday, solidifying him as China’s supreme leader. China and North Korea have maintained a close alliance for decades, with the pair being central adversaries for the U.S. in both the Korean peninsula and Taiwan.
“I, together with you, will shape [a] more beautiful future of the DPRK-China relations, meeting the demand of the times,” Kim wrote, according to an Agence France-Presse.
Xi has ruled China as the head of the CCP for 10 years, and his third term is widely seen as cementing him as a leader whose role in the party could rival even Chairman Mao Zedong.
Kim’s “warmest congratulations” for Xi comes as his regime grows increasingly belligerent toward South Korea. The North Korean military has launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles into the sea and even over the island of Japan over the past month.
The show of force began in late September ahead of a visit to Seoul by Vice President Kamala Harris. The U.S. and South Korea have also conducted joint military exercises in recent weeks, leading to more launches and artillery drills from the North.
North Korea also flew 12 warplanes near the South Korean border earlier in October. The sortie included eight fighter jets and four bombers. South Korea responded with a flight of 30 warplanes, but the two groups did not engage.
Main battle tanks and other armored vehicles participated in a joins U.S.-South Korea river crossing exercise last week, with engineers from both militaries constructing crossings in a matter of hours.
The drill involved 1,000 South Korean and U.S. troops, as well as 50 vehicles, including tanks, KF-16 fighter jets and Apache and Cobra attack helicopters. The helicopters could be seen passing over the completed bridge and firing flares. The bridges themselves consisted of more than 140 pieces of engineering equipment.