January 08, 2016 10:03
China on Thursday restricted passage across the Tumen River Bridge linking Jilin Province with North Korea. A sign was posted in front of the bridge informing travelers of "maintenance work" but the bridge appeared to be in good order and there was no sign of workers there.
One local said, "We were able to cross the bridge without any problems even until Tuesday. The sign was posted on Wednesday right after North Korea conducted its nuclear test."
One 60-year-old resident on the Chinese side said, "China's Yanbian region and North Korea are connected, and we are worried that water and soil contaminated with radiation might flow in our direction. You can see smog, but radiation is invisible. We're afraid of breathing the air and drinking the water."
The unexpected North Korean nuclear test appears to have brought several cross-border projects between China and North Korea to a halt.
One businessman in Jilin Province told the Chosun Ilbo that construction of a building that will house a cross-border office overseeing the Rajin-Sonbong special economic zone in the North has been nearly completed, but rumored plans to develop the zone like the joint-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex starting this year appear to have been canceled.
China has already built power transmission towers up to Hunchun to send electricity directly to the economic zones. "It's very difficult to do business with North Korea," the businessman said. "Nobody imagined North Korea would conduct a nuclear test when China decided to develop the region and step up economic exchanges last month."
Around 120 Chinese businesses are operating in the Rajin-Sonbong zone.
Anti-North Korean sentiment is spreading among residents of Tumen and Yanji, which are just 100 to 120 km away from the North Korean nuclear test site, a source in Jilin said.
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