Chinese and North Korean officials on Sunday held talks in Beijing amid reports of rift between the two allies over Pyongyang's decision to launch a rocket, which eventually failed, and its plans to conduct a nuclear test.
Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo met North Korea's ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) delegation on Sunday, the first since the April 13 failed launch of the rocket.
The North Korean delegation was headed by Kim Yong Il, alternate member of the Political Bureau and secretary of the central committee of the WPK.
While the details were not disclosed, state-run news agency Xinhua reported Kim as saying that his country attached great importance to the friendship and cooperation with China and would follow the instructions of the late dictator Kim Jong Il, who died last December nominating his young son Kim Jong Un to head the government and the party.
The relationship would be advanced in a "sustainable way", Kim said.
The meeting came as China surprisingly joined the rest of the members of the UN Security Council in endorsing a strongly worded statement condemning attempts of North Korea to launch a rocket to put a satellite in space, despite strong opposition from the US, South Korea and Japan.
The rocket exploded soon after the launch.
The UN statement called for stricter sanctions on North Korea warned of further action if it continued satellite launches or nuclear tests.
Explaining China's hardening stand, state-run Global Times said: "This is the first time that China has openly taken a tough attitude toward Pyongyang since the new leadership came into power".
"It is necessary for China to take this stance. As a young leader, Jim Jong-un is still developing his knowledge about China. China's role in ensuring Pyongyang's stable power transition is positive.
"But China does not need to pacify the junior Kim. China supports the stability on the Korean Peninsula and the stability of the North", it said.
"But Pyongyang is not the only thing on China's diplomatic agenda. It has widespread stakes to consider. If Pyongyang also cherishes the bilateral relationship, it should commit itself to expanding shared interests, not expanding conflicts", it said, clearly expressing China's displeasure over North Korea, which remained its closest ally.
Also top Chinese officials openly spoke of Beijing firmly warning Pyongyang against conducting nuclear test to make up for the failed rocket launch.
China's firm stand came after North Korea went ahead with the launch weeks after reaching an agreement with the US to receive massive food aide for its commitment to not pursue nuclear weapons programme.
"There is a prevailing theory that China's North Korean policy has been abducted by Pyongyang and that it can now do as it wishes. China would thus only accept the consequences and protect the North in the international community. We hope Pyongyang hasn't been misled," the Times write up last week said.
"Chinese people respect Kim Jong-un and wish North Korea can chart a way that leads to development. We hope the North can learn something from this launch failure, not repeat radical actions of the past and damage the sincere feeling of the Chinese government and public has toward Pyongyang," it said.
China has also denied reports that it supplied the missile launch transporter to North Korea, stating that it had not broken any UN sanctions.