Conference held for North Korean officials in China hints at expanding China-North Korea trade

The Sino-North Korean Friendship Bridge, which connects the Chinese city of Dandong to the North Korean city of Sinuiju. (Image: Daily NK)

North Korean authorities recently held a trade-related “ideological conference” for officials based in China. The conference apparently stressed that authorities would not tolerate any smuggling, but left officials present to foresee that China-North Korea trade would soon expand.

According to a Daily NK source in China on Friday, North Korean authorities gathered representative North Korean business executives for a general examination in the Chinese city of Dandong earlier this month. Executives from Shenyang were also present.

During the review, authorities condemned the unofficial trade without official sanction in harsh language, warning that officials who engage in smuggling or other illegal activities “would lose everything immediately”.

Basically, they threatened that the authorities would not tolerate – under any circumstances – the importation into North Korea of ​​unapproved items or the mixing of undeclared items with officially approved items, as was the practice by the past.

In particular, North Korean authorities reportedly generated tension in the room by listing examples of people executed for smuggling last year.

The source said authorities provided a detailed account of a woman who was shot after she was caught smuggling in Nampo. He said the room was terrified as speakers recalled how she was executed by an anti-aircraft gun, obliterating her body.

Authorities also used the exam to convey a clothing order for officials in China.

The speaker ordered officials not to wear leather clothes, saying that if ordinary people wear the same leather clothes worn by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, it harms the majesty and dignity of Kim.

In fact, even before Kim started wearing leather, North Korean officials in northeast China wore leather jackets as their staple winter garment. Now they can’t – even in China.

Meanwhile, after the review, North Korean officials in China said unofficial state-run trade would soon expand.

They believe that the North Korean authorities plan to expand the unofficial state-run trade, which is why the conference emphasizing the eradication of smuggling was held.

In fact, according to the source, the speaker said there is not much time left before the trade opens.

North Korean authorities have restarted freight train service between China and North Korea, but the speaker’s comment suggests trade could still grow.

Specifically, North Korean authorities are reportedly moving towards large-scale exports to China of minerals currently restricted under UN sanctions.

Even until recently, North Korea exported coal and minerals such as zinc and magnesia clinker via deep-sea transshipments, but this means the country intends to increase its exports.

The source said it looks like North Korea will soon be exporting high-value minerals to China. He said that for this reason, Chinese traders regularly contact North Korea.

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