Coreia do Norte, Daily NK, Inglês


culture, crackdowns
An aerial view of downtown Sinuiju taken from the Chinese side of the border. (Wikimedia Commons)

The North Korean government is encouraging Chinese businesspeople to resume business activities they were forced to suspend when North Korea closed its borders because of COVID-19. This suggests that economic cooperation between North Korea and China appears to be picking up speed following the visit to North Korea by Zhao Leji, chair of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in North Pyongan Province told Daily NK on Tuesday that the North Korean authorities have issued entrance permits for around 10 Chinese businesspeople with ties to the trade management bureau at the North Pyongan Province People’s Committee.

The Chinese businesspeople entered the North Korean city of Sinuiju from the Chinese city of Dandong, in Liaoning Province. According to the source, they are inspecting the shops and warehouses they had operated in Sinuiju prior to the North Korean border closure as they prepare to resume their business activities there.

At the moment, the businesspeople are focused on repairing their facilities and have not imported any of the materials they would need for business or any products to sell in the North.

The North Korean authorities are also allowing Chinese businesspeople with factories or stores in other parts of the country to visit the North to put their facilities back in order.

However, small-time Chinese merchants are not yet allowed to enter the country, according to the source. Chinese businesspeople will probably not be able to fully resume their business activities in North Korea until small-time merchants are also allowed to visit.

North Korea has also granted permission for Chinese living overseas (hwagyo) to enter the country, but not to bring in any products for sale.

However, the Chinese businesspeople who visited North Korea were not allowed to bring their Chinese mobile phones into the country, the source said.

The North Korean authorities strictly forbid the use of Chinese-made mobile phones to prevent information about the country from leaking overseas and to stop North Koreans from smuggling items or receiving remittances from overseas. Those mobile phone restrictions also apply to foreigners who enter the country for business.

That prompted the Chinese businesspeople to complain that not having access to their mobile phones would inevitably disrupt their business operations, the source said.

Relatedly, North Korean trading companies are doing brisk business with individual Chinese businesspeople.

Daily NK reported previously that trade has been picking up in the provinces since North Korea’s enactment of the “20×10 regional development policy” in January, and large amounts of construction materials and machinery needed to modernize factories are being imported into the country.

Following the rebound in trade and the launch of the regional development policy, the Chinese yuan-North Korean won exchange rate at North Korean markets has risen from around KPW 1,200 to around KPW 1,800.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to [email protected].

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