November 21, 2018 11:31
Construction of a 30-story hotel on the North Korean border with China has been abruptly halted, allegedly because Beijing took issue with Pyongyang's plans to build a casino there, Radio Free Asia reported Monday.
One source in Dandong, China told RFA that construction was halted "suddenly" after more than 20 floors had been built, adding there are rumors that Chinese authorities belatedly found out about the casino plan.
The Chinese government is struggling to rein in rampant overseas gambling by its citizens and may not want a casino so close to its border.
But it is equally possible that something went wrong with the financing. Another source in Dandong reported rumors that the man behind the hotel, Dutch-Chinese billionaire Yang Bin, was trying to attract foreign capital to finance the construction. Yang, once considered one of the richest men in China, was appointed to run a special economic zone in Sinuiju in the North in 2002 but was later arrested by Chinese authorities on charges of tax evasion.
A source said North Korea already operates a casino in the Rajin-Sonbong special economic zone near the Chinese border. "From North Korea's standpoint, it doesn't make sense to build a casino in Sinuiju, which is difficult to control access to, whereas in the Rajin-Sonbong special economic zone access is strictly limited to foreigners only. Besides, it seems unlikely that China would object to the construction of a casino on the North Korean territory."
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