China is sending a special envoy to North Korea later this week.
The official Xinhua news agency says Song Tao, the head of China's Communist Party's external affairs department, will leave for North Korea on Friday to discuss China's recently concluded national congress with North Korean officials. The report gave no further details about Song's upcoming trip to Pyongyang.
China is North Korea's largest trading partner and closest diplomatic ally, but relations between the two have become frayed recently. Beijing is upset with Pyongyang over the regime's continued tests of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, in defiance of numerous international sanctions, and has backed a series of new United Nations sanctions imposed on the North.
U.S. President Donald Trump urged China and other regional leaders to increase their efforts to resolve the crisis on the Korean peninsula during his just-concluded five-nation, 12-day trip to Asia.
But China fears that any measure that could topple North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's regime, could lead to a flood of refugees across its border with the North, and deprive Beijing of a strategic buffer with democratic South Korea.