The new Amrok [Yalu] River Bridge in May 2014 in a photo taken by Daily NK’s
special investigative team. Image: Daily NK
The planned opening of the bridge
connecting Dandong in Liaoning Province, China with Sinuiju, North
Pyongan Province in North Korea has been delayed indefinitely, according a report by China’s state-run Global Times on October 31st.
According to the report, North Korea has
not followed the business plan stipulating that it construct access roads to the
bridge, and as such, its opening remains on hold. North Korea was charged with construction
on access roads for the bridge, but work at the site has yet to begin, in fact,
the area continues to be nothing but swathes of farmland.
On the ground in Dandong, the report
conveyed the disappointment by many in the area, “This new bridge that
was going to be so magnificently built is finished on one side, and a vegetable
plot on the North Korean end.” Many traders and people purchasing homes and
opening stores in the area were anticipating to benefit from increased commerce
between the two cities, which account for 70% of bilateral trade, after the
The construction of the new bridge over the Amrok [Yalu] River, to
replace the aging “Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge,” was
officially proposed by China’s former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wu
Dawei, when he visited North Korea in 2007. However, it was not until October
2009 that former Premier Wen Jiabao visited North Korea to make the deal
official, for which China agreed to take on the construction costs. The two
countries then finalized plans for the project in February 2010, with China
continually pushing for construction to begin in October, only to see them
finally begin in December that year after a series of delays.
Over the past four years of construction,
China accelerated efforts to build a four-lane highway and other advanced features
amounting to 2.22 billion RMB [approximately 360 million USD].
As to why the project has not moved forward
despite China’s completion of its end of the deal, “North Korea demanded more investment from
China for the connecting roads and has done no construction,” the report
Daily NK previously reported in July about the advanced construction efforts on
the Chinese side and predicted delays in the bridge’s opening due to failure by
North Korea to uphold its end of the contract.