Chinese Warships Visit North Korea on Goodwill Visit

SEOUL, South Korea -- Two Chinese warships arrived at a North Korean port Thursday on a goodwill visit to mark the 50th anniversary of a friendship treaty between the countries.

Footage from Associated Press Television News in North Korea showed citizens chanting "friendship" as they welcomed the Chinese ships Luoyang and Zheng He at the North's east coast port of Wonsan.

Vice Admiral Tian Zhong, commander of the Chinese navy's northern fleet, and North Korean Rear Admiral Kim Myong Sik exchanged greetings, laid flowers before a statue of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung and reviewed North Korean naval honor guards, according to APTN footage.

The port has deep historical significance for North Korea. It was where Kim Il Sung first returned to the North following the Korean peninsula's liberation from Japanese colonial rule, according to the North's official media.

Tian said the visit, which is expected to run through Monday, is meant "to strengthen and develop the relations between China and Korea," according to APTN.

General exchanges between North Korea and China are not unusual around the anniversary of their friendship treaty, said Baek Seung-joo, a military expert at the state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.

The arrival of Chinese ships appears to be aimed at counterbalancing improved defense ties between China and South Korea after those countries' senior defense officials held a series of meetings last month, Baek said.