April 19 (UPI) -- Trade at a Chinese border city facing North Korea has declined from a year ago, according to Chinese state media.
China Daily reported Friday the city of Hunchun, where the boundaries of China, North Korea and Russia converge, is experiencing decreased volume of trade.
For the first quarter of 2019, trains running both ways carried a total of 700,000 tons of coal and other commodities, down from 810,000 tons from a year earlier, according to Chinese news service CRI Online.
The first quarter begins in January and ends mid-April.
Other commodities besides coal are being exchanged by freight train: coking coal, also known as metallurgical coal, metal powder, sheet metal, Russian foodstuffs and South Korean cosmetics.
Despite the year-on-year quarterly decline, overall trade through Hunchun is on the rise. CRI Online reports the volume of annual trade is up 19.7 percent, from the most recent to the previous year, and up 55.6 percent in terms of value, to $237 million.
The Hunchun Border Economic Cooperation Zone became a railroad hub with the launch of the Sino-Russia Hunchun-Kamyshovaya Railway in November 2003, but regular operations did not begin until 2013, according to Chinese state media.
Hunchun is located about seven miles from the border trade zone where cargo is handled every year. The area is relatively undeveloped and a bridge across the Tumen River built in 1938 links the two sides.
Trade between China, North Korea and Russia continues as North Korea emphasizes self-reliance and self-regeneration in national construction.
Pyongyang's state-controlled news agency KCNA reported Thursday the regime is holding a competition that would motivate North Koreans to show their "resolve" in economic construction.
The competition is reportedly taking place at Wonsan City, in North Korea's Kangwon Province.
"Whether or not the hostile forces lift sanctions, we will move forward with our goal of building a socialist powerhouse of self-regeneration," North Korea said in statement.