People walk away from the Quanhe border crossing between China and North Korea in Yanbian in northeastern China's Jilin province, Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. (AP Photo)
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When Kim Jong Un inherited power in North Korea in late 2011, then-Chinese President Hu Jintao was outwardly supportive of the untested young leader, predicting that "traditional friendly cooperation" between the countries would strengthen.Before retiring this summer, China's longtime point man on North Korea, Wu Dawei, had not visited the country for over a year.China fought alongside North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War, in which Chinese leader Mao Zedong lost his eldest son, and Beijing has long been Pyongyang's chief ally and primary trade partner.Mao Zedong's description of North Korea's relationship with China is typically mischaracterized as being as close as "lips and teeth".An editorial in China's influential Global Times warned after Pyongyang's latest nuclear test that cutting off North Korea's oil would redirect the conflict to one between North Korea and China.Zhao Tong, a North Korea expert at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing, said North Korea was deeply unhappy with China's backing of earlier U.N. sanctions.
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