News / Asia

Residents Living on China-N. Korea Border Await Calmer Times

Residents Living on China-N. Korea Border Await Calmer Timesi
X
April 13, 2013 5:46 PM
China's close ties with North Korea are most clearly seen in the cities and towns along their shared border, where brisk bilateral trade, Korean migrants and tourist businesses attest to warm relations. In the border city of Yanji in China's landlocked northeastern province, Jilin, many are looking forward to calmer days on the Korean peninsula. William Ide reports.

Residents Living on China-N. Korea Border Await Calmer Times

William Ide
China often describes its relations with North Korea as being as close as lips and teeth, but when tensions rise on the peninsula they test the strength of those ties. In the border city of Yanji, in China’s landlocked northeastern province of Jili, it is clear just how close those ties are and how much the two need each other.
 
Even as tensions on the Korean peninsula build, business keeps going between the North and this border city of Yanji.
 
At a local seafood distribution center, a manager surnamed Wang shows off a large hairy crab with meaty claws that was caught off North Korea’s shores.  The crabs are shipped in each night, then packed in boxes of ice and flown as far away as Shanghai.
 
Wang says tensions on the Korean peninsula have had little impact on his business because, as he puts it: “everyone needs to eat.”
 
“There really is no crisis, really the only challenges we face are at sea, such as typhoons, the inability of boats to go out to sea or seasonal fishing bans,” said Wang.
 
  • North Korean children hold up red scarves to be tied around their necks during an induction ceremony into the Korean Children's Union held at a stadium in Pyongyang, April 12, 2013.
  • Two military officers admire displays at a flower show featuring thousands of Kimilsungia flowers, named after the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, Pyongyang, April 12, 2013.
  • South Korean soldiers stand guard at an observation post near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) which separates the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul April 11, 2013.
  • Female North Korean soldiers patrol along the banks of Yalu River, near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, April 11, 2013.
  • A North Korean man blocks his face with his hand from being photographed as he and other residents take a ferry in Yalu River, near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, April 11, 2013.
  • People take part in an oath-taking before the statues of late North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il on Mansudae Hill in Pyongyang, April 10, 2013. (KCNA)
  • Anti-North Korean protesters release balloons with peace messages on the Grand Unification Bridge leading to the North near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, north of Seoul, April 10, 2013.
  • South Koreans arrive with their belongings from North Korea's Kaesong at the customs, immigration and quarantine office near the border village of Panmunjom, in Paju, north of Seoul, South Korea, April 9, 2013.
  • Visitors look at the industrial complex in Kaesong, North Korea, through binoculars at Dora Observation Post in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) near the border village of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, April 9, 2013.
  • A South Korean military vehicle passes by gates leading to the North Korean city of Kaesong at the customs, immigration and quarantine office near the border village of Panmunjom, April 8, 2013.
  • An elementary school teacher orders her students to leave as they watch South Korean housewives denounce annual South Korean-U.S. military exercises, near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, April 8, 2013.
  • South Korean army soldiers patrol along a barbed-wire fence near the border village of the Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, April 8, 2013.
  • North Korean military dogs run to a target with a portrait of South Korean Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin during a military drill, April 6, 2013. (KCNA)

Crabs are just a part of the $5 billion in annual trade between China and North Korea. China supplies the North with a lifeline of fuel and food, and gets cheap iron ore and coal in return.
 
The number of North Koreans working in Chinese factories along the border is growing and it is estimated that as many as 40,000 are already here.
 
“Chinese companies residing in the border areas are very interested in very low wage of North Korean labor, and the rich mineral resources and also they want to use North Korean human resources not just based on low wages, they are also going to employ some North Korea in advanced technology such as IT area,” said Lim Eul-chul, a professor of North Korean studies at Kyungnam University in Seoul.
 
Tourism to North Korea from China is also growing. Chinese state media recently reported that the industry was seeing a boom this season just as tensions were rising.
 
But earlier this week, Chinese tours were put on hold. At a local tourism office, employees say there is little they can do but sit around and wait for the situation to change.
 
At the Liujing Hotel in Yanji, the sound of Mandarin and Korean mixes freely.  The hotel is run by North Korea.
 
The waitresses wear traditional Korean dresses, wait tables by day and perform at the hotel by night - singing and playing instruments.
 
They are fluent in Mandarin and speak some Russian as well. Yanji is close to Russia’s eastern border and while foreigners are few here, Russian tourists and traders are a common sight.
 
They say they occasionally get out for a movie, but when this reporter asked one what she thought of China, she just frowned and said she preferred Pyongyang.
 
Many Chinese residents here say they have no interest in visiting North Korea.
 
“They come over to find food, people have nothing to eat. Children can't eat and have little to wear, so they come here to earn money, to work," said one woman.  "Others come here to marry. They have children and settle here, once they obtain Chinese identification they leave to South Korea and never come back.”
 
One Yanji resident, a man surnamed Wang, says the North Korea of today is like China during the Cultural Revolution.
 
“Our economic relations are mainly based on commerce, for example in there they have mineral resources, here we have cheap goods, food and oil that we can exchange," he said. "Doing business in North Korea isn’t easy and business is based on trust. There it's a bit chaotic, sometimes close the border, it's not easy to foresee what will happen next.”
 
However, some analysts see a window of opportunity opening, if the North would just put its nuclear ambitions aside. They note that in addition to Kim Jung Un’s recent threats, he has also spoken about building up the North’s economy and improving people’s lives.
 
Peking University political scientist Wang Dong says China wants to convince North Korea that it is in its best interest to open up.
 
“To really open up to the international community, and start a reform process that will bring prosperity to their own people, not just poverty and not just keep on saber rattling,” said Wang.
 
And that is something that could not only benefit the North, but China’s northeastern provinces as well.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid