China border trade with North Korea 'very active', report says

Published: Aug. 22, 2016 at 9:46 AM

Elizabeth Shim

SEOUL, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- China's trade with North Korea appears to have resumed active levels at least since the joint U.S.-South Korea decision to deploy the anti-missile defense system THAAD was announced in July.

Lee Jong-seok, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute, said Monday trade has been very vigorous, according to local news service CBS No Cut News.

Lee, who monitored activity at the China-North Korea border, said after trade experienced a brief decline in April and May, activity "rebounded" despite the requirements of the United Nations Security Council sanctions and a plunge in prices of North Korean minerals.

After the July THAAD announcement the volume of trade between the two countries has been rising. The Chinese city of Dandong is also getting ready for a "full-scale" launch of activity, including border tourism, by September, trade officials at the border said.

The flow of North Korean laborers into China has also increased, signaling the commitment of local Chinese authorities and businesses to employing North Korean labor for economic development, according to the report.

China is short on workers in "labor-intensive industries" and needs to retain more skilled workers in its IT industry, according to Lee.

There are estimated to be 30,000 North Korean laborers in Dandong alone.

The Chinese city of Tumen employs 20,000 North Koreans and about 4,000 North Koreans are working at 20 businesses specializing in shipbuilding and construction, Lee said.

China may also be providing the North Korean border with a fresh flow of electric power.

Nearly all residences in the North Korean border city of Hyesan appeared to be keeping their lights on late at night, and new homes were being built at unprecedented rates at the border.

China, meanwhile, appears to be scaling back South Korea-related activities, according to Seoul.

The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency released a report showing multiple cancellations and delays being initiated from the Chinese side in July and early August, local magazine Sisa Journal reported Monday.

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