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Chinese city pins hope on North Korea trade

By Elizabeth Shim
Chinese city pins hope on North Korea trade
The changes on the Korean Peninsula are being observed with cautious optimism in Dandong, China, according to a Chinese press report. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

May 7 (UPI) -- Businesses in Dandong are anticipating improvements in the Chinese border city as North Korea pledges economic reform and cooperation with its largest trading partner.

Chinese state tabloid Global Times reported Monday local Dandong residents are discussing the expected changes.

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A Dandong source with the surname Long told the Chinese newspaper there is a reason for cautious optimism.

"If North Korea can truly try to develop its economy and increase trade with China, Dandong will hopefully see an economic boom thanks to its strategic location in Northeast Asia," Long said.

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"Considering the positive situation, the opening of the new Yalu River Bridge linking Dandong's new city area and North Korea's Sinuiju might be placed on the agenda in the near future," the source added.

Before the inter-Korea summit and Kim Jong Un's meeting with Xi Jinping in March, reports indicated Dandong was struggling under the weight of international sanctions.

The sanctions ban North Korea coal and iron ore exports.

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The Global Times report did not mention how investors' expectations are rising despite sanctions.

About 70 percent of China-North Korea trade takes place through Dandong, according to the report.

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South Korea's Korea Railroad Research Institute is also preparing for economic reform, despite South Korea's unilateral sanctions against the North, that includes a ban on financial transactions.

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Mun Hyung-suk, a member of a research team at the institute, told South Korean television network MBC the group is looking into ways to make South Korean trains adjust to Russian railroad tracks, should rail be reconnected across the Korean Peninsula.

Mun said researchers developed a variable gauge system in 2015 that allows South Korean railway vehicles to travel across a break of gauge caused by two railway networks with differing track gauges, or railroad tracks.

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