China recently held a trade fair on the North Korean border, attracting thousands and promoting economic and trade ties with the Kim regime, South Korean media reported Thursday.
According to a report from Yonhap News Agency on Thursday, the China Yanji-Tumenjiang Area International Fair for Investment and Trade was held recently in Jilin Province, attracting over 10,000 visitors from across Asia, including North Koreans. The fair was reportedly under the theme of “opening, reform, cooperation, and co-existence,” suggesting that China wishes to continue boosting its ties with North Korea.
“The latest trade fair and other similar events in the China-North Korea border areas seem to suggest Beijing moving to stimulate economic exchanges with the North,” a source told the agency. “Chinese companies are also holding investment consultations seeking to enter North Korea if U.N. sanctions are eased.”
China has long been North Korea’s closest communist ally, providing vital economic and commercial ties that have allowed the isolated regime to survive and pursue its aggressive nuclear weapons strategy. Their ongoing relationship contravenes sanctions passed by the U.N. Security Council last December that prohibit companies from doing business with the North Korean regime.
Last month, it was reported that China began allowing North Korean products and workers to flow into the country at an accelerated rate following President Donald Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong-un where the pair agreed to work towards a comprehensive peace agreement.
China also recently opened a North Korean travel agency in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, a move designed to help Kim Jong-un’s ambition of attracting mass tourism become a reality.
China’s closeness to North Korea has long been a source of frustration to President Donald Trump, who recently complained that Beijing is not doing enough to help peace negotiations by exerting pressure on the North Korean regime.
“I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were (despite the UN Sanctions which are in place),” he wrote after announcing the cancellation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s planned trip to Pyongyang.
Calls for other countries to start relieving sanctions on the regime have grown in recent months amid a thawing of relations between North Korea and Western allies. However, Pompeo has previously indicated that the U.S. will not relieve any sanctions until the regime has completely rid itself of nuclear weapons.
“We’re not going to relieve sanctions until such time as we achieved our objectives,” Pompeo said in May. “We are not going to do this in small increments, where the world is essentially coerced into relieving economic pressure.”