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Would China protect North Korea if it was attacked?

Would China protect North Korea if it was attacked? We promise this is not click-bait! The short answer to this is technically they would, and in the framework of the Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty.

What is the Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty?

China famously helped North Korea during the Korean War, but while American troops remained in South Korea, Chinese troops had withdrawn by 1958. In 1961 there was one of many a coup in South Korea, with the new South Korean leadership asking for increased military spending.

To read about Mao Anying click here.

A portait photo of Mao Anying, son of Mao Zedong.
Mao Anying, the son of a certain famous chairman, fought and died in North Korea during the Korean War.

This led to fears in the north of an invasion from the south, so the DPRK turned to China and the Soviet Union for support. It should be remebered that this was a timr of some of the most blatant brinkmanship from both sides of the Iron Curtain, and that Nuclear War was very much a possibility.

Thus the Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty was born. The treaty was signed on September 10th 1961 between Premier of China Zhou Enlai and then Prime-Minster of the DPRK Kim Il-Sung.

It stipulated the following;

“the treaty declares the two nations undertake all necessary measures to oppose any country or coalition of countries that might attack either nation”

Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty

How long is the treaty valid for?

It was originally signed for 20 years, since being renewed in 1981, and 2001. Technically that means that it will be renewed in 2021, in September. So, yeah, would China protect North Korea if it was attacked? At least until this September.

Would China protect North Korea if it was attacked regardless then?

We’re no international lawyers and boy do we not claim to be! In short though if someone attacks the DPRK without provocation then theoretically at least China should and would intervene in their defense.

Would China protect North Korea if it was attacked?

It also means that if someone attacks China then the DPRK are also to step in and help. Sometimes it’s useful to have a nuclear neighbour!

Although it should be noted that when there was the big “war of words” between the US and North Korea, China specifically stated that the pact was void if the DPRK were the aggressors. Therefore if the DPRK hypothetically nuked Guam, China would not have to intervene. Poor old Guam!

Wanna see Guam before it gets nuked? Join our Least Visited Countries Tour.

Any other interesting trivia you can give us?

Both the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea AND the Peoples Republic of China only have one military pact with one other country, each other. Therefore when we talk of China being North Korea’s closest ally, there is definite evidence of this.

To read about the foreign relations of the DPRK click here.

Want to learn more about things in the DPRK? Then join one of our tours.

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