Night Watch

China-North Korea: Today at a routine press conference, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman conveyed China's condolences to North Korea over the collapse of the 23-story building in Pyongyang. "We extend our deep condolences to those killed in the accident and our heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved families and the injured. China and the DPRK are friendly neighboring countries. We hope and believe that the aftermath of the relevant accident will be handled appropriately under the DPRK Government's leadership."

Comment: Use of the daily press conference as the channel for conveying condolences is a manifestation of the general decline in relations between China and North Korea. The description of North Korea as a "friendly neighboring country" indicates the Chinese leadership considers the relationship to be on the same level as China's relationships with its Southeast Asian neighbors and India.

China-Russia: Putin's visit to China. Russian President Putin's held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Shanghai today. The featured topics were bilateral trade, a new gas pipeline, military cooperation and international affairs.

The men signed 40 agreements and declarations, covering a wide range of industries, but not gas. A Chinese spokesman said there will be a gas agreement, but not yet.

The two Presidents also attended the start of a joint Russian-Chinese naval exercise in the East China Sea. The exercise will last until 26 May and will feature the most advanced weapons of both nations, according to official publicity. Putin said bilateral military cooperation would only increase.

In a statement, Putin said that Russian and Chinese positions on international affairs largely coincide. Their joint statement said, "The parties agree that there is no room for use-of-force scenarios in the region. All existing problems should be resolved at the negotiating table."

"The two sides have agreed to coordinate and cooperate closely in the interests of forming effective institutions of peace and security. Russia and China hope that all parties will join efforts to resume six-party nuclear disarmament talks and achieve a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula."

Putin said he considered Russia-China cooperation to be at an all-time high.

Comment: While the focus was on bilateral cooperation, the audience was clearly the US and its allies. An unusual confluence of events is driving Russia and China closer together. US and Western allied support for the Kyiv regime in Ukraine largely is responsible for Russia's closer economic embrace of China.

Night Watch

NightWatch is an internationally acclaimed nightly newsletter that tracks and assesses threats to US national security. It has an edgy, executive style unlike any other summary of its kind.

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