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North Korea, China to Develop Economic Zone

Posted December. 01, 2005 03:22,   


It has been reported that North Korea may develop an economic special zone in Cheolsan County, North Pyeongan Province, instead of the Shinuiju special zone.

An official of the Beijing-based North-China Economic and Cultural Exchange Center (NCECEC) said yesterday, “China and the North exchanged their opinions on the development of the Cheolsan special zone, and China is conducting a draft work for the special zone’s economic and political system at the request of the North.”

The NCECEC is the single group that was approved by the North Korean authorities as a representative for attracting investment from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao to the North on April 15 this year. Some figures from China, who took part in drawing up the Shinuiju special zone project in 2002, were also included in the group.

A NCECEC official said, “Since the North’s preparatory committee for developing the Shinuiju special zone was incorporated into the National Economic Cooperation Association last year, the Shinuiju plan was abandoned,” adding, “Taking this situation into consideration, we suggested developing an economic special zone in Cheolsan County where, unlike Shinuiju, there has been little change in the number of residents.”

The official added, “The North gave up its plan to develop Shinuiju special zone due to opposition from the Chinese government. So, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il will probably make the decision himself after thoroughly reviewing the draft that we submitted.”

The special zone that the NCECEC proposed as a possible economic development area is an area south of Daegye Island in Cheolsan County. Kibong-ri, whose depth of water is deep, is scheduled to be a port, and the entire size of the area is equal to that of the Shinuiju special zone (132 square kilometers).

Chinese companies will invest facilities and technologies while the North will provide land and workers. The vice head of secretaries of the NCECEC said that after running several pilot plants in the area of about two square kilometers, it would gradually expand the size of the plan.

Since one of the biggest reasons why China opposed developing the Shinuiju special zone was the plan’s casino businesses, the Cheolsan special zone is scheduled to be built as a pure economic special zone.

Speculation is circulating among Chinese businessmen who made inroads into the North Korean market that when Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Pyongyang in October, he pledged to invest more than $10 billion to the North. In response, speculation is rife that the NCECEC’s plan to attract investment for the Cheolsan special zone is likely to gain momentum.