China, pushed again by Washington to bring North Korea to heel after last week’s artillery attack on the South, told Pyongyang their relationship had withstood international “tempests.”

On Wednesday, South Korea’s spy chief said it was likely the isolated North would attack its neighbor again. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week’s bombardment threatened the stability of the region, home to three of Asia’s biggest economies.

China has refused to blame its ally for shelling the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, which destroyed homes and killed four people, or for the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel in March.

“The traditional friendship of China and North Korea has withstood the tests of international tempests and changes and replenished itself over time,” Wu Bangguo, China’s chief legislator, told a visiting North Korean delegation Thursday.

None of Wu’s remarks mentioned the recent confrontation between North and South Korea, or the dispute over North Korea’s nuclear activities.

Both Beijing and Pyongyang are committed to “strengthening strategic communication” said Wu.