A Chinese city has opened a new border crossing with North Korea – fitted with radiation detectors – even as talks between Washington and Pyongyang have languished over disagreements for nuclear sanctions relief.
The new highway border crossing opened in the northeastern city of Ji'an on Monday (8), complementing its three existing ports with the North, the city said in a statement published to its website Tuesday (9).
"After three years of unremitting efforts, the China-North Korean Ji'an-Manpo Highway Port was officially opened," the city said.
The project cost 280 million yuan ($42 million) and the city estimated 500,000 tons of goods and 200,000 people would cross through the new port each year.
But crippling UN sanctions imposed on the North by the UN Security Council in 2016 and 2017 have crimped trade between the two Cold War-era allies.
China is by far the North's biggest trading partner. While Pyongyang publishes virtually no economic statistics of its own, Chinese Customs figures show exports to China have plummeted by more than 90 percent since 2016, down to $213 million last year – although some observers question their reliability
Sanctions relief was top of North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un's agenda for his Hanoi summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in February.
But the meeting broke up without a statement or even a lunch as the two sides disagreed over walking back Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme in exchange for loosening sanctions.
After the opening ceremony, the first 120 tourists crossed the border. Chinese tourism to the North has picked up as relations between the countries have improved in recent years.
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