◆The current situation at the Rason-Quanhe trade hub
Overland trade between North Korea and China has restarted after North Korean closed its borders due to COVID-19. At the end of December, the trade route between Sinuiju and Dandong, the biggest hub for overland trade between the two countries, reopened. What is the current situation at the Rason-Quanhe trade hub? An ASIAPRESS reporting partner living in China recently visited the Rason-Quanhe area, which boasts the second largest amount of trade flow after Sinuiju-Dandong. (HAN Ha-yu)
North Korea has gradually pulled away from the strict isolation policies it adhered to during the COVID-19 pandemic. In late December 2022, China shifted from its “zero-COVID” policy to a “living with COVID” policy, which led to the start of train-based trade between Sinuiju and Dandong, the biggest trade route between the two countries. North Korean authorities, however, are still not permitting people from crossing over the border.
◆ North Korea-China trade on fast-track to normalization
According to China Customs data, which allows us to see changes in the amount of trade between North Korea and China, the amount of imports and exports during the first half of 2023 exceeded the total amount of imports and exports recorded in all of 2022. Maritime-based trade through Nampo Port in the West Sea was restarted some time ago, but it is clear that the volume of North Korea-China trade is recovering at a rapid pace.
What is the situation at Rason-Quanhe route along the Tumen River, which is another major hub for North Korea-China trade after the Sinuiju-Dandong route? According to Yonhap News, freight trucks began going back and forth between Rason and Quanhe in January of this year. ASIAPRESS commissioned a reporting partner living in China to visit the Quanhe customs house to find out more about the current situation.
◆ Drivers not allowed to leave their vehicles in North Korea
The reporting partner told ASIAPRESS that “drivers of freight trucks who cross over into North Korea can’t leave their vehicles. They go immediately to unloading spots, unload their containers, and then immediately head back to China. I’ve heard that in accordance with North Korean COVID-19 quarantine procedures, the containers must stay up to a week in front of the North Korean customs house where they are quarantined and sanitized before being carried off to their final destinations.”
The reporting partner added that “I didn’t see any freight trucks that had come over from North Korea that day, and I asked a trade-related official about what kinds of goods were being transported from China to North Korea, but I couldn’t find out anything.”
※ With the exception of one photograph, the photos published below were all taken by an ASIAPRESS reporting partner based in China in late July 2023.
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