Relations between North Korea and China don't look the same as before and their frosty ties are likely to continue in the foreseeable future.
South Korea's unification ministry has confirmed that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un did not send a congratulatory message to Chinese President Xi Jinping for his birthday this month, unlike last year when Kim reached out, wishing him to realize his goal of achieving national prosperity.
Experts in Korea and China point out that the planned visit to Seoul next month by President Xi, who has never been to Pyongyang as the head of state, suggests the dynamics of Sino-Korean relations appear to be shifting, considering Chinese leaders of the past have made it a point to visit Pyongyang before coming to Seoul.
Kim Han-kwon of the Asan Institute For Policy Studies says Beijing appears to be seeking political and other cooperations with Seoul as well as economic ties.
"China used to maintain a balance, using the North for political purposes and the South for economic ones. But this is changing."
Chinese experts agree.
Professor Chu Shulong of Tsinghua University, at a forum in Beijing on Tuesday, said President Xi is trying to put pressure on Pyongyang to end its nuclear development, by cutting off some of its economic aids.
China has also joined international sanctions since Pyongyang carried out a widely condemned nuclear test in February of last year, by stopping to supply crude oil to the North for months and limiting banking transactions with the reclusive state.
Connie Kim Arirang News.