The coronavirus pandemic has meant that North Korea has become even more closed off from the rest of the world than it traditionally has been, with the Kim regime taking all sorts of measures to keep up what it claims is its record of having zero positive coronavirus cases. This has also included a huge crackdown on the various smuggling trades that have taken place over the border between North Korea and China.
Now, however, there are proposals that trade is set to resume, as soon as this month, between those two countries.
According to a Nikkei report Thursday, North Korea and China are set to resume trading in April, with a new bridge between the two countries set to open. Trade was closed off at the start of the pandemic in Asia, in January of 2020, and the lack of goods coming in from China have been a disaster for the North Korean economy.
“I heard that North Korea is planning to accept Chinese goods from mid-April,” a source told Nikkei. That source works for a trading company in Dandong, which is on the Yalu River on the Chinese side.
Other sources confirmed to Nikkei that bilateral trade will resume this month, with the first goods being transported over the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, between Dandong and Sinŭiju, on the North Korean side of the border. Sinŭiju, the report said, will also offer coronavirus testing.
However, with North Korea’s restrictions still in place, passenger cars will not be allowed to cross the bridges.
Meanwhile, safety inspections are underway for the New Yalu River Bridge, which was completed seven years ago but has not yet opened. The Friendship Bridge is also requiring new inspections, since it has been closed for so long.
Radio Free Asia also reported Thursday that the reopening of trade between the countries was imminent.
“Yesterday an acquaintance who works at Dandong Station informed me they are inspecting and repairing railroad tracks so international trains between China and North Korea can begin running from early April,” RFA’s source said.
“They also set up new quarantine facilities in the Dandong and Sinuiju customs offices, which have been closed for more than a year because of the coronavirus, and they are waiting for trade to resume.”
RFA also said that while there have been multiple reports of trade resuming between the countries over the course of the last year, there are reasons to believe it’s really happening this time.
Given the movement of all the North Korean trade workers in and around Dandong, and the inspections on the Yalu River bridge, the possibility that Sino-Korean trade will resume in April is really raising the expectations of all the traders from both countries,” the source said.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver. Image: Reuters.