Bridges, Anti-Corruption, and Minerals: Sino-North Korean Borderland News
Against the backdrop of ongoing Sino-Russian consolidation and construction in their shored border spaces, and with Pyongyang’s perspective in mind, we take a quick trip through a few stories from the Chinese press pertaining to the Sino-North Korean border region:
The Global Times writes bullishly of economic revival in the key bilateral hub of Dandong, following on from these exchanges at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs daily press conference in the Chinese capital:
Reuters: According to a report, trucks have resumed carrying grain and other goods from China to North Korea after almost two years’ shutdown. Can the foreign ministry confirm that the China-North Korea border is indeed open to trucks carrying these goods as this report describes?
Wang Wenbin: After friendly consultations, China and the DPRK resumed cross-border rail freight transport between Dandong and Sinuiju last year. In accordance with the agreement on border ports and other border-related agreements, the two sides will handle matters related to cooperation on border ports through consultation.
Amidst a flurry of questions about spy balloons, the follow-up was nearly lost in the stratosphere.
Reuters: I just wanted to follow up on my question earlier about the transport of cargo between China and North Korea. The report talked about the transport of cargo from the Chinese city of Hunchun to the North Korean city of Rason or Luoxian. So I just want to ask whether the foreign ministry can confirm that this particular crossing is indeed open as this report describes.
Wang Wenbin: I just stated China’s position and have nothing further to share.
Further up the Yalu River, in remote Kuandian County, the Legal Daily newspaper has sent an intrepid reporter to demonstrate China’s vigilance of the riverine border with North Korea. The reportage, with images and all, is available here: 鸭绿江上的趸船驻勤点.
Back in Dandong, investigators have been busily dispatching anti-corruption verdicts, including notably Deng Penghong (邓鹏宏), a leader at Anshan Steel with management and health care portfolios. His list of crimes via the Central Inspection Commission included this particular corkscrew of malfeasance:
Lost ideals and beliefs, disloyalty and dishonesty toward the party, actively scheming [处心积虑] to resist organizational control, colluding with others, providing false information to the [investigating] organization, and not cherishing the opportunities given by the organization to rescue himself; ignoring the spirit of the Eight Point Regulations, accepting long-term illegal acceptance of gifts, gift money, payment cards, accepting travel activities arranged by private business owners in violation of regulations; concealing and not reporting personal matters; borrowing money and vehicles from management and service objects without compensation, obtaining large returns through private loans, affecting the fair execution of official duties; living a corrupt lifestyle and being morally corrupt, abusing his position, providing assistance to others in project contracting, project approval, appropriation, material procurement, etc., seeking benefits, illegally accepting property in exceptionally huge sums; and he is suspected of having accepted bribes.
For the happier side of officialdom, this interview with a cadre from further up the river in Changbai is worth a look. While in Beijing this spring, Han Yongzhe [韩永哲], deputy secretary of the Changbai Korean Autonomous County Party Committee and county magistrate, both absorbed and spread the dominant thinking on the economic potential of the border regions. He wants more tourism in 2023 to have a “兴边富民、稳边固边” as he explains in a (long-to-upload, but existent) interview with Renmin Ribao. Following on from his return, Han has made trips to ethnic Korean homes and described his ambitious plans for a massive new diatomite plant near the border with North Korea: “沿着G331国道，韩永哲来到当地发展较快的一家硅藻土企业调研。该企业在今年准备新建年产4万吨精细二氧化硅功能填料生产线项目.”
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