June 22, 2018 09:31
North Korea and China are rapidly boosting exchanges that could significantly blunt international sanctions against the rogue regime.
North Korea's Air Koryo will launch a direct flight to Xian, the capital of China's Shaanxi Province next month, bringing regular flights to China to five. It already flies to Beijing, Shenyang, Shanghai, and a Chengdu route will open on June 28.
Local media in Xian reported the decision on Wednesday, just as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un returned home after winding up his third trip to China. The flights will serve mainly package tour groups going to Pyongyang from July that will bring in much-needed valuta for the North Korean regime.
Kim has displayed signs that he wants to adopt the Chinese model of capitalism, leaving a message in the guest book that he "deeply admires" farming innovations he was shown at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
The facility focuses on research about industrializing agriculture, including hydroponic farming and horticulture in urban areas.
His father Kim Jong-il also visited the academy in January 2006 but seemed unwilling or unable to adopt its innovations or those of any of the other Chinese enterprises he was shown.
Kim Jong-un also visited a rail traffic control center in Beijing under the China Investment Corporation. He inspected the subway control and automated ticket sales systems and was briefed on Beijing's history of subway operations and its prospect of growth.
This suggests that agriculture and railways will become key parts in North Korea-China economic cooperation. The two facilities are related to China's sweeping "One Belt, One Road" initiative, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
"Both organizations are part of China's ambitious 'One Belt, One Road' initiative, created to spread the country's global influence by lending other countries money for big infrastructure projects built by Chinese companies," the daily said.
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