China Boosting Transport Links to N.Korean Border Region

China is to lay bullet-train network to Dandong and Hunchun just in the doorstep of North Korea, a local daily in Shenyang reported Thursday.

Beijing plans to complete a high-speed railway connecting Shenyang with Dandong, which faces Sinuiju in North Korea across the border, by 2015.

The project requires building many tunnels and bridges to shorten the length of the track by dozens of kilometers from the existing 305 km line, which takes four hours. The bullet train traveling at up to 250 km an hour is to shorten the journey to just one hour.

A 295 km high-speed railway connecting Dandong and Dalian is also to start construction this year. At the speed of 200 km/h, the journey will take an hour and 30 minutes.

Dandong at the mouth of Apnok (or Yalu) River is the key point that leads to Sinuiju and Pyongyang from China, and is where nearly 80 percent of trade between China and North Korea takes place.

Construction of a bullet-train network linking Jilin and Hunchun, the entrance to the Rajin-Sonbong Special Economic Zone in North Korea, will be completed by next year. Work on the 359 km railroad that connects Jilin, Yanji, Tumen and Hunchun began in 2010. It is the biggest railway construction project in Jilin Province with a budget of 41.6 billion yuan.

China has acquired the right to use the Rajin-Sonbong Port on the East Sea.

China is also planning to build more bridges to North Korea. There are currently 11, and five more are planned, with a new bridge connecting Sinuiju in North Korea to China's Dandong across the Apnok River is expected to be completed by next year.

Experts say the reason why China is building such massive infrastructure in the region is largely economic, to help with the import of North Korean natural resources and develop the backward border region.

But the roads and bridges will also allow the Chinese army to enter North Korea quickly in the event of regime collapse. That this is one aim is suggested by the fact that the Shenyang Military Region is involved in construction of all railways, bridges and roads along the China-North Korean border.

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 15, 2013 13:13 KST

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