China has opened a new high-speed rail line from central part of the country to the border of North Korea in order to strengthen economic ties.
The high-speed train from the Chinese industrial centre of Shenyang to the border city of Dandong on the Yalu River was opened for business today.
The service will cover 129 miles (207km) in around 60mins, cutting down the travelling time from 3.5h.
An unnamed railway official was quoted by Xinhua as saying that the new rail link will ‘raise the region’s economic competitiveness’.
Between China and North Korea, Dandong is a major hub for trade and tourism with more than 600 border trade enterprises situated in the city.
Trade with North Korea accounts for 40% of the city’s total trade volume. Around 80% of trade between the two countries passes through Dandong, which is near one of North Korea’s special economic zones on Hwanggumpyong island, reported Reuters.
Being an important trading partner of North Korea, China has supported the development of three special economic zones in the country.
Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey international relations and trade professor Wei Liang was quoted by Los Angeles Times as saying: "The new Shenyang-Dandong line is more an expression of good intention to expand investment in infrastructure throughout the Asia-Pacific region and beyond than a reflection of the prospect for increased economic collaboration with Pyongyang.
"Overall expansion of Chinese overseas investment is the end goal. In North Korea, the leader and the policies are very full of uncertainty, especially in its interaction with China over the past decade.
"Policies can change overnight, so investments are very risky for Chinese companies, especially private companies."
Image: A view of the Yalu River between China (right) and North Korea (left). Photo: courtesy of Bjørn Christian Tørrissen.