It was reported that there will be a ceremony to celebrate the start of construction of the New Yalu River Bridge linking Shinuiju and Dandong, China, before the end of the year.
Yonhap News yesterday quoted Shenyang and Dandong sources saying that both the North Korean and Chinese authorities decided to hold the ceremony this year and have started preparing for the event.
The source in Dandong said, “Instructions that the start of the bridge construction must not slip to next year were handed down from the Chinese government last week, so the governments of Dandong City and Liaoning Province urgently are trying to set a date. It will likely happen the 30th or 31st.”
The source also explained the reason why the Chinese government is hurrying to start the construction, which was supposed to start early next year. “Both China and North Korea intend to show observers domestically and internationally they have the will to construct the bridge.”
In Langtou, Dandong, where one end of the bridge will be built, a construction board has been set up and says the New Yalu River Bridge will connect to Jangseo in the southern part of Shinuiju.
China and North Korea agreed to construct the bridge in October 2009, and in February, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Korea, Pak Gil Yon, and Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Hailong signed the agreement in Dandong, China.
Dandong City had announced plans to start construction of the bridge in October, but it has been delayed for uncertain reasons. It was rumored there was conflict over the construction of the bridge because North Korea had requested additional aid from the Chinese government.
Researcher Jeon Byung Gon of the Korea Institute for National Unification said in a telephone interview with The Daily NK that, “The ceremonial ground-breaking will be a chance to promote the friendship between China and North Korea again.”
Researcher Jeon explained that, “So far, there have been several impediments to trade such as quotas, outdated facilities for transportation, both countries’ border management, etc. However, when the New Yalu River Bridge is constructed, such limitations can be resolved and trade between China and North Korea can be revitalized.”
He predicted, “Since they are trying to carry out the construction in a hurry, economic cooperation and friendship relations between two countries will be taken to the next level.”