By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein
New York Times recently ran an interesting dispatch from Shenyang in northeastern China, about an hour’s high-speed train ride from North Korea. This report highlights something important: while trade with North Korea is negligible for China as compared to the country’s total trade volume, North Korea as a trading partner does matter for the Chinese border regions specifically:
….And in a region often referred to as China’s Rust Belt, the local economy had already been shaky for years.
Possibly the main problem, though, is that Ms. Wen’s primary customer base has virtually evaporated.
“With North Korea closed because of the virus, they can’t come or go at all,” she said from behind the counter of her store in Shenyang’s Koreatown, where signs advertising steep discounts on imported South Korean styles had done little to draw in shoppers. “Before, we’d have maybe dozens of North Korean customers every day. Now you don’t even get 10.”
China’s continuing strict coronavirus controls have battered local economies across the country. But Shenyang has endured a double blow. Just 150 miles from the North Korean border, it is suffering not only from the restrictions in China, but also from those imposed by the even more isolated country next door.
(Source and full article: Vivian Wang, “Lockdowns in China, and North Korea, Bring Double Blow to Bridge City,” New York Times, August 30th, 2022.)