Business people in China cautious about sanctions still in place in NK

By Li Ruohan in Seoul Source:Global Times Published: 2018/9/20 22:28:43

A declaration at the conclusion of a summit of the two Koreas promising more steps toward a nuclear-free peninsula was met with more caution than optimism by a spectrum of ordinary people affected by the issue interviewed by the Global Times reporter on Thursday.

The declaration signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Wednesday during Moon's three-day visit to Pyongyang introduces new measures such as the permanent destruction of North Korea's main Yongbyon nuclear facility if the US takes corresponding action. 

The declaration was well-received by China, the US, Japan and Russia, who expect the document to promote the denuclearization of the peninsula.

China strongly supports the declaration, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Thursday.

Wang also hailed efforts by Pyongyang and Seoul to free the peninsula of military and nuclear threats.

Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies of Fudan University in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Thursday that if North Korea does make a breakthrough on denuclearization, "the punitive sanctions from international society on Pyongyang are likely to be relaxed or reduced, which will significantly improve the country's foreign investment environment." 

But ordinary residents and business people interviewed by the Global Times from North Korea's key economic neighbors - South Korea and China - were more circumspect than the experts and officials.

"North Korea expects economic support from South Korea and the US in return for its denuclearization activities," Kim Dong-man, chairman of the Seoul-based Bogo International, told the Global Times.

"However, we need to see more action, not promises or goodwill, to spend our money on a land that still faces international sanctions."

People in Dandong, a northeastern China city that borders North Korea, were by now largely numb to positive messages, Zhang Xu, a Dandong real estate agent told the Global Times on Thursday.

"People in Dandong have heard too much 'good news' and 'good signals' too many times, but business with North Korea remains stalled as the international sanctions are still in place," Zhang said.

"Though the declaration is a good signal, it is still far from real action, and the investment and trade environment in North Korea will not change until the US lifts its sanctions."

Dandong real estate rose about 2,000 yuan ($292.4) to about 6,000 yuan a square meter in late April after North Korea announced it would focus on economic development, Zhang said.

Dandong and Hunchun residents have complained that optimism brought speculators from other parts of China to invest in real estate on the border cities, making house prices rocket soar.

A customs official in Hunchun, a northeastern city bordering North Korea, told the Global Times on condition of anonymity, "What we care about most is when will the sanctions be removed, especially those relevant to aquatic products and restricting labor from North Korea."

 There are still reasons to be optimistic, said Li Shenglin, head of the Dandong-based Linfeng Trade Company Li Shenglin.

"US President Donald Trump needs peace on the Korean Peninsula as a political asset for his mid-term election and he needs support from Kim," Li said.

China needs North Korea to have a more favorable environment for investors, Li believed.

Newspaper headline: Denuclearization declaration welcomed

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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