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China, N. Korea increase economic exchanges in border areas: sources

All Headlines 12:03 August 30, 2018

BEIJING, Aug. 30 (Yonhap) -- China appears to be accelerating its economic cooperation with North Korea despite U.S. moves to strengthen sanctions on the North, as the Chinese authorities recently hosted an international trade and investment fair near the North Korean border.

According to sources here Thursday, the China Yanji-Tumenjiang Area International Fair for Investment and Trade was held in the Jilin Province city of Yanji early this week, drawing more than 10,000 participants from North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Taiwan and other neighboring countries.

The fair was held under the theme of opening, reform, cooperation and co-existence, indicating China is ready to actively engage in economic cooperation with North Korea and other neighboring countries, they explained.

"The latest trade fair and other similar events in the China-North Korea border areas seem to suggest Beijing moving to stimulate economic exchanges with the North. Chinese companies are also holding investment consultations seeking to enter North Korea if U.N. sanctions are eased," a source said.

Hunchun, a northeastern Chinese city close to the North Korean border, hosted the 2018 Northeast Asia Cultural Tourism Gourmet Festival on Aug. 3-6, introducing about 200 kinds of cuisine from the two Koreas, Russia, Japan and other Northeast Asian countries.

About 200,000 people reportedly visited the festival sponsored by the governments and tourism authorities of China's Jilin Province and Hunchun.

In a related move, a Chinese pharmaceutical group late last month agreed to provide medicines worth about 11 million Chinese yuan (US$1.6 million) to North Korea.

Officials in Washington have complained that China's easing of sanctions on North Korea deters progress in North-U.S. denuclearization negotiations.

Another source in Beijing raised speculation that China may further expand its economic cooperation with North Korea if President Xi Jinping's anticipated visit to Pyongyang is realized this year.

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