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China considers shutting down Aprok river bridge

Posted May. 10, 2017 07:17,   

Updated May. 10, 2017 07:22


As China intensifies its pressure on North Korea, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on Monday that Beijing is considering shutting down Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, a bridge across the Yalu (also known as Aprok) river, which is the symbol of China-North Korea trade. It is regarded as another approach to pressurize the North.

RFA quoted a diplomatic source in China as saying that shutdown of the bridge could come as early as this month. The reason for a temporary closure of the Yalu River Bridge is because it needs to be repaired due to safety concerns.

Established in 1943, the Yalu River Bridge links Sinuiju in North Korea with Dandong in China and serves as the key trade channel between the two countries. However, safety concerns have been raised continuously due to aging bridge infrastructure. It has been said that traffic accidents on the bridge are often observed.

In the meantime, Chinese border guards began searching every North Korean cargo truck crossing into China via the bridge, instead of randomly selecting vehicles, which indicates that Beijing was implementing financial sanctions against Pyongyang in the wake of a U.S.-China Summit last month. This increased the time to pass the customs procedure. “As a result (of China’s pressure on North Korea), the number of trade workers based in China, as well as of North Korean merchants traveling to and from Dandong, has dramatically decreased,” a North Korean source in Dandong was quoted as saying by RFA.

Sung-Ha Joo zsh75@donga.com