February 21, 2024

A trip to Hunchun: North Korean workers and trade in China’s borderlands

A thriving border city serves as a revealing hub for PRC-DPRK economic cooperation

After the surprising participation of North Korean representatives in Beijing and Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road” conference this past weekend, we need to ask ourselves what the chances are that North Korea will actually end up as an explicit participant in the project.

As Christopher Green and I recently argued in an academic paper, those chances are slender indeed: North Korea has been keeping Chinese investment and infrastructure at arms’ length since it accepted a major influx in bilateral economic cooperation in 2009. But things can always change.