Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Islands in the stream

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And the Manchurianization of North Korea continues. Now we have word that the two close-as-lips-and-teeth neighbors will work on co-developing Wihwa-do, an island in the river that makes up the western half of their common border (the Yalu in English and Chinese, the Amnok-kang in Korean):
The two countries plan to hold a groundbreaking ceremony on May 28 for development of the island on the Yalu River, the South's Yonhap news agency said.

Pyongyang has reportedly worked out a special law to set up a free trade zone on the island, which is separated by a narrow waterway from the Chinese city of Dandong.

The North's state media disclosed a deal last year to build a new cross-border bridge on the Yalu River as part of a major economic package announced by Beijing.

The two sides have agreed to turn the island into a base for logistics, tourism and manufacturing that would be linked to China's industrial complex to be built in Dandong, Yonhap said.
At the end of 2010, the Chosun Ilbo reported on discussions between Pyongyang and Beijing over control of the island, which abuts the Chinese city of Dandong. The Pyongyang regime may have wanted it hermetically sealed from the rest of North Korea (e.g., through a bridge directly from Dandong to the island) but the Chinese, who seem hell-bent on forcing North Korea out of its shell, wanted the bridge to go through southern Shinuiju so that people going to Wihwa-do would have to drive past a bunch of North Koreans.

And then there was also the matter of a lease. Pyongyang offered fifty years and the Beijing balked, so North Korea offered a 100-year lease. Just great: North Korea is giving up pieces of its territory to the Chinese (as in Rasŏn, where Chinese troops are stationed), so when/if unification does happen, there might not be any North Korea left.

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