North Korea – the rogue state or the hermit kingdom as the country is often referred to – declared on Wednesday (3 May) that it will not abandon its nuclear programme even if that leads to losing its long-time friendship with China. The country also said that its nuclear programme was "as precious as its own life".
The warning came after the Beijing administration and China's state-run media issued threats to the Kim Jong-un-led regime against conducting any more nuclear tests. The reclusive nation has already lost several allies in the past, of the few it has had, because of its obsession with becoming a major nuclear power in the world.
However, despite its strong objection to Pyongyang's nuclear pursuit, Beijing has remained the North's biggest trade partner, with about half of all North Korean imports coming from the friendly neighbour. North Korean exports also rely heavily on Chinese consumption.
Amid escalating tensions with the US and South Korea – the North's biggest adversaries in the current times – is Pyongyang heading towards losing another good friend? For that matter, does the country still have any friends left?
Here is a list of the nations that continue to have trade, military or diplomatic ties with the reclusive regime:
India – After China, India is the next biggest trade partner of North Korea and also a major food aid provider. Data shows a rise in India's exports to North Korea over a decade, exports hitting S$60min with 2013 from $10m in the middle of the 2000s. India mainly exports refined petroleum products to the country, while the North exports products like silver and auto parts to the Asian ally. The two nations also have embassies in each others' countries, but despite the strong ties, India is critical of Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.
Pakistan – Another Asian nation that has strong diplomatic and trade links to the the North. The Muslim-majority nation, which is also adding nuclear warheads to its arsenal at a fast clip, is said to have received missile technology from North Korea. Pakistan is accused of helping Pyongyang in creating its nuclear arsenal.
Singapore – The country has a healthy trade relationship with Pyongyang, with many Singaporean companies having opened up businesses in the North Korean capital city. It is among North Korea's top five trade partners. The two nations also allowed visa-free entry to each other's nationals until mid-2016.
Cuba – North Korea and Cuba reportedly became close allies during the Cold War, largely because of their common anti-America stance. In a recent article on North Korea state-run news agency, the country claimed that the Cuban administration has again offered help in dealing with threats from the US.
Iran - Ties between North Korea and Iran ties strengthened during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s when Pyongyang provided massive military support to the country. However, their relationship came under strain after North Korea tried to establish links with Iraq.
Malaysia - The Asian country has maintained good relations with the North, with visa-free entry for each other's citizens. But relations deteriorated after the alleged assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of the North Korean ruler, at the Kuala Lumpur airport in February.
Indonesia - Among the other Asian neighbours of North Korea that has maintained friendly ties despite criticism over nuclear tests and human rights violations. North Korean founder Kim Il-Sung -- the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un -- had even visited Indonesia in the 1960s. The two nations also have embassies in each other's capital cities.
Tanzania and Uganda - Both the East African nations have shared strong military ties with North Korea, but Uganda ended the cooperation in 2016 due to United Nations sanctions against the rogue state.
Hong Kong - The city state in the People's Republic of China has been one of the major trading partners of the hermit nation. The two also share cultural and educational ties.