SEOUL, A close aide to Chinese President Xi Jinping said Thursday that China has been closely cooperating with the international community to contain North Korea's nuclear ambitions and will continue to play a "constructive" role in resolving the nuclear stalemate that currently stands at a "critical" moment.

In a written interview with Yonhap News Agency, He Yiting, executive vice president of the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the Communist Party's top education institute, also emphasized the importance of bilateral ties between South Korea and China, adding that Beijing will endeavor to improve ties in a "healthy" and "stable" manner.

The interview was done in time for He's trip to Seoul this week aimed at explaining the outcome of the recent 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in which President Xi cemented his power as he entered his second five-year term. He is known as a close aide to Xi and for his deep understanding of the Chinese leader's philosophy and policy direction.

"China's stance on the Korean Peninsula issues is consistent and clear in that it supports denuclearization of the peninsula, protection of peace and stability and the resolution of problems through talks and negotiations," He said. "We keep working actively with countries to prevent any war from breaking out, to maintain peace and induce reconciliation and dialogue."

"The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is at a complex and critical moment. We hope that South Korea and other relevant countries play their roles sufficiently and accordingly take responsibility, while through joint efforts push to ease tensions and bring things to the right path toward resolving the problem through negotiations at the earliest date," he said.

"We will continue to play our constructive role going forward."

His visit came after speculation for the resumption of talks aimed at dealing with the North's nuclear threats had mounted amid more than two months of a lull in its provocations and signals for direct contacts with Pyongyang coming from Washington.

The mood, however, was chilled when the U.S. recently put the North back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, which drew strong condemnation from the North.

China has long been asked to do more in containing the North's nuclear threats given that it is the closest ally to and the largest trading partner with the reclusive state.

With regard to bilateral ties with South Korea, he called the two "important neighbors" and "cooperative partners," saying that better relations between Seoul and Beijing are not only in the interest of the people of the two countries but also in the interest of regional peace and stability.

The two countries saw ties frayed over the decision to deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, which was made in July last year, as China strongly opposed the move it claims to be a threat to its security. South Korean companies bore the brunt of what appears to be its retaliation for more than a year.

In a deal reached in late October, South Korea and China agreed to put their bilateral relations back on track and have since taken measures to normalize ties at various levels.

"China and South Korea are important partners and cooperative partners," he said. "China, together with South Korea, will work to advance our bilateral ties in a healthy and stable manner by getting over the challenges currently facing the ties between the two countries."

Explaining the outcome of the 19th party congress, he emphasized that China's diplomatic policy will not have a marked change in its stance and direction and reassured that it will not pursue its own interests at the expense of those of other countries. But he added that China will not give up its "justified" interests.

He also made it clear that China will not push for hegemony no matter how strong it becomes, nor will it take the path toward expansion.

"Through the latest congress and reports, it is possible to understand the direction that the Chinese Communist Party's strategy for development will take for the next five years and beyond, along with its strategic and basic ways," he said.

"We hope that (China and South Korea) will deepen their understanding of each other through exchanges, find common ground for mutual benefit and expand areas for cooperation, eventually contributing actively to a joint pursuit of peace and development in the Northeast Asian region," he said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency