June 02, 2023

Beyond the bridges of Dandong: politics, corruption, and sanctions enforcement

Observers could learn more by focusing on local politics and less on bridge-watching

Let us forget, for a moment, about the bridges in Dandong. Although these twin ribbons of cross-border infrastructure are an almost magnetic means of gauging the quality of the Chinese-North Korean relationship at any given moment, they can also be an impediment to seeing clearly what is swirling around and between their foundations.

The shutting off of a few days’ worth of lorry traffic across the old Friendship Bridge, or another few months of inaction on the still-unused bridge from Dandong’s “New City District” (Xinchengqu) to Sinuiju’s fertile outskirts, are not going to change much of anything.