China's exports to North Korea in April rose at a marginal pace from a year earlier, reversing an annual decline in March, customs data showed on Monday, as Pyongyang affirmed its position to develop long-standing ties with China.

China is the chief ally and economic lifeline for North Korea, which has been hard-hit by U.N. sanctions over its nuclear weapons programme.

Shipments to North Korea last month increased 0.54% from a year earlier to $164.9 million, reversing the 5.66% drop in March, data released by China's General Administration of Customs showed.

On month-on-month base, China's exports to North Korea rose 28.9% in April.

Some top Chinese exports to North Korea included processed hair and wool for use in wigs, soybean oil and wheat flour.

China's top legislator Zhao Leji on April 13 met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, marking the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit the North since 2018. Zhao expressed Beijing's willingness to work with Pyongyang to deepen trust and boost cooperation.

Kim also expected the two countries to "steadily carry forward and develop this durable traditions of friendship, North Korean state media KCNA reported on April 14.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)