Archive for the ‘Tonghua-Dandong Economic Zone’ Category

PRC approves international cooperative demonstration zone in Jilin

Monday, June 18th, 2012

UPDATE 1 (2012-6-18): According to Yonhap:

South Korean firms and China’s Jilin Province agreed to engage in joint venture projects worth 3.9 trillion won (US$3.4 billion), a local business organization said Monday.

Under the memorandum of understanding reached in Seoul, 48 South Korean companies and 48 Chinese regional government agencies and businesses will form partnerships to move forward on various business projects, the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said.

The two sides will engage in such areas as agriculture, construction, energy, distribution and tourism, South Korea’s largest private economic organization said.

Lotte Group, the Korea Software Enterprise Association and HS Machinery Co. have expressed interest in business tie-ups with Jilin, which is located in northwestern China and includes Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture. The province also borders North Korea to the south.

The KCCI said Jilin is one of China’ main heavy industrial hubs with average annual growth in the past three years reaching 13 percent. Such growth promises considerable business opportunities for South Korean companies wanting to diversify into emerging markets.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-5-3): According to China Daily:

The Chinese government announced Wednesday that it has approved the establishment of an international cooperative demonstration zone in Northeast China’s Jilin province to boost cross-border cooperation in the region.

In a document posted on the central government’s official website, the State Council said the zone is expected to expand investment cooperation in northeast Asian regions.

Located in the port city of Hunchun, the demonstration zone will cover 90 square km and include an international industrial cooperation zone, a border trade cooperation zone and economic cooperation zones — one between China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and another between China and Russia, it said.

The demonstration zone will focus on the development of local manufacturing and processing industries, including those for auto parts, agricultural and animal products, seafood, new materials, medicines, textiles and garments, the document said.

The Tumen River in Hunchun straddles the borders of China, Russia and the DPRK. In 1992, China, Russia, the DPRK, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Mongolia launched a joint development project in the Tumen River area, a move made to strengthen regional cooperation in the area.

The State Council has called for more efforts to boost the construction of Sino-DPRK and Sino-Russia international transit corridors and promote cross-border economic cooperation between China and the two countries.

More supporting policies, including fiscal and taxation support, will be implemented to encourage the development of new energy, new material equipment manufacturing and other projects in the demonstration zone, according to the State Council.

The construction of the demonstration zone will also make border regions more open to the outside and strengthen the social and economic development of local areas, the document said.

And according to the Daily NK:

The authorities in China’s Jilin Province are investing billions of Yuan in multiple projects along the Sino-North Korean border. The construction is concentrated in areas adjacent to major North Korean border towns in the mountainous region, giving it the hypothetical potential to provide massive opportunities for future Sino-North Korean economic growth.

According to Jilin Shinmun and other local media outlets, the high-speed train, which will allow travel from Hunchun to Changchun in two hours at speeds of up to 250kph, is under construction at a predicted cost of 37.7 billion Yuan.

Jilin Province is also planning a “five border region highway” in its 12th Five-Year Plan from 2011 to 2015. The Changchun to Hunchun leg is already open, while legs from Changchun to Huyinan, Songjangheo to Changbai, Changchun to Mt. Baekdu to Yanji, Changchun to Linjiang and Changchun to Jibian are under construction with the typical degree of Chinese speed. Among these locations, Changbai, Linjiang and Jibian all face major North Korean towns (Hyesan (Yangkang Province), Chungkang (Jagang Province) and Manpo (Jagang Province).

The province is also putting weight behind railway construction travelling towards North Korea; from Nanpin to nearby Musan (in North Hamkyung Province), Kayisan to Sambong (in North Hamkyung Province) and Changbai to Hyesan.

When all the construction is complete, there will be a bridgehead connecting the Tumen to the Yalu and linking all North Korea’s major cities with the Chinese economic miracle. If trade and cooperation between the two countries grows more active than it is now, the newly built highways and railways will form the core pathway for commercial distribution.

However, there are also major concerns with the plan. First and foremost, defection will become more difficult when the new developments are complete. The regions where highways and railways are now appearing have long been major defection routes or hiding places for new defectors.

In particular, a warning device installed by Jilin police in border villages, while an improvement in terms of public security, can also be used to report North Korean defectors to the authorities. The device, known as the ‘BF-01’, has been installed in 6,000 homes along the border at a cost of 5 million Yuan, connecting them with public security offices in an emergency. When pressed, names, addresses and the sound from the scene is transmitted to the local police station, border guards and neighbors.

“Regardless of whether North Korea conducts a nuclear test, it seems that North Korea and China are developing the northeastern region,” Shin Jong Ho, a research fellow with the Center for Northeastern Asian & Inter-Korean Affairs, part of the Gyeonggi Research Institute, commented. “In the future, if cooperation between North Korea and China gets better then these transportation routes will be very useful.”

Read the full stories here:
China approves int’l border cooperation zone
China Daily (Xinhua)

Border Region Getting Huge Boost
Daily NK
Park Seong Guk


DPRK-PRC promote business in border area

Monday, September 6th, 2010

According to the Choson Ilbo:

North Korea and China are already starting economic cooperation projects in the border area across China’s northeast and the North’s Rajin-Sonbong region.

The Chinese Ministry of Transport recently designated Jilin Province as a pilot region for international trade and logistics encompassing the three northeastern provinces of China and the Duman (or Tumen) River area, the China Shipping Gazette reported last Friday.

The decision is aimed at facilitating transport of goods from China’s northeast to Shanghai and the south via customs points in the Chinese city of Hunchun and the North’s Rajin-Sonbong Port, the weekly added.

A representative of the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in Jilin also signed an agreement on bilateral economic cooperation with Kim Su-yol, the chairman of the Rajin-Sonbong special city people’s committee, at the sixth Northeast Asia Trade Expo in Changchun last Thursday.

Read the full story here:
N.Korea, China Promote Business in Border Area\
Choson Ilbo


Pramod Mittal eyes stake in DPRK mines

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

According to the Economic Times of India:

Pramod Mittal, the younger sibling of steel tycoon LN Mittal and head of Global Steel Holdings, is negotiating with the North Korean government for a stake in the country’s Musan Iron Ore mines, estimated to hold reserves of more than seven billion tonnes. The move by Global Steel is aimed more at accessing the mineral resource, as the ore is in sharp demand with steelmakers expanding capacity and iron ore miners moving to a quarterly price regime to meet growing markets in Asia and Africa.

Mr Mittal, who is chairman of Global Steel, a closely-held company of the Mohan Lal Mittal family, had visited Pyongyang last week to talk to senior government officials to work out the modalities of a share of Musan’s reserves. The ML Mittal family consists of elder son LN Mittal, Pramod Mittal and younger brother Vinod Mittal, who looks after the Mumbai-based Ispat Industries. When contacted, Pramod Mittal declined to comment. “Our visit to North Korea is to further business interests. We are not looking for any stake in Musan,” he told ET .

According to people familiar with the development, Global Steel could likely be negotiating with Pyongyang for development rights to Musan for a fixed peiod, where Global Steel would do the mining and get to buy an agreed portion of the reserves. Typically, in the mining industry, such development rights are for a long term period of 20 to 50 years.

Global Steel, which is registered in the tax haven Isle of Man, has steelmaking operations in Bulgaria and Nigeria and a 20-year management contract to operate Zimbabwe Iron & Steel. Although Global Steel has a small steelmaking capacity of just more than 2 million tonnes, iron ore from Musan would not be used for Global Steel’s operations. Global Steel also owns two coal blocks in Mozambique where ArcelorMittal, controlled by elder brother LN Mittal, also has coal mines. While the Mittal family has maintained that Global Steel has no link to ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel company has been reportedly keen on Global Steel’s assets.

Two years ago, North Korea had granted development rights on Musan to China’s Tonghua Iron & Steel Group for a period of 50 years. However, Pyongyang recently terminated that agreement without offering any reason. People connected with the issue said Global Steel is negotiating with Musan on the amount of investment needed for developing the mines and also on building infrastructure, which is integral to any mining activity.

While the talks with Pyongyang is at an initial stage, under the previous agreement with Tonghua, the Chinese company had reportedly agreed to put in about 7 billion yuan, and had also planned to produce 10 million tonnes of iron ore each year. Of the total investment, about $240 million was for building roads and railways from Musan to Tonghua in China. The Musan iron ore mines are close to the Chinese border. The secretive North Korean government has recently been sending out feelers to global mining companies for developing its vast mineral deposits, said to contain one of the world’s largest reserves, closely rivalling Brazil.

The Musan Mine is the DPRK’s largest and satellite imagery of it can be seen here.

Here is a story about Tonghua’s Musan deal

Read the full story here:
Pramod Mittal eyes stake in North Korea’s Musan mines
The Economic Times
MV Ramsurya


Primer on the Tumen Area Development Project

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Northeast Asia Matters posted a very helpful background paper on the Tumen Area Economic Development Project. According to Northeast Asia Matters:

Many in Northeast Asia wish to see the Tumen Basin develop into a place for economic cooperation and competition. One such plan is the Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI), formerly known as Tumen River Area Development Project (TRADP), being carried out under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The 20-year 80 billion USD plan calls for the creation of port facilities and transportation infrastructure in the region to support a multinational trading hub. Countries participating in the GTI are China, Mongolia, North Korea, Russia and South Korea.

The goal of GTI is to make the area into a free economic zone for trade to prosper and attract investment into the area. For China, the project would give traders in Northeast China easier access to major international ports without having to circumnavigate the Korean Peninsula and thus stimulating growth in China’s northeast rustbelt. For Russia, the project would give the ability to better exploit resources in Siberia and allow easier access to North Korea’s resource-rich hinterland; the area just to the south of the Tumen contains reserves of oil, minerals, coal, timber, and abundant farmland.

Development of the Tumen River area and North Korea’s participation in this project means inflow of hard foreign currency, improvements in infrastructure, and possible increase in industrial capacity. North Korea, with its bleak economy, therefore, will most likely continue to support the development of Tumen River area and increase its future involvement in the project as it seeks to break the economic isolation and hardship it has suffered since the collapse of most of its communist allies and the implementation of international sanctions.

Read the full paper here.


China approves Tumen border development zone

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

UPDATE:  China plans development zone on North Korean border
By Michael Rank

China is planning a major new development zone along the North Korean border aimed at boosting trade with its reclusive neighbour and throughout northeast Asia, a Chinese-language website reports.

The plan is to come to fruition under two separate deals: the border cities of Dandong in Liaoning province and Tonghua in Jilin province have signed an (unpriced) “development and opening up vanguard zone cooperation agreement” as well as a 440 million yuan ($64 million) “six-party cooperation agreement” with the Shenyang Railway Bureau, Changchun Customs, Dandong Port Group and Tonghua Steel (Tonggang) to build a “Tonghua inland port” with a duty-free zone, warehouses and international transit facilities that will be ready in 2012.

The Tonghua-Dandong Economic Zone will apparently stretch over most of the western half of the Chinese-North Korean border, a distance of around 350 km. The city of Tonghua is in fact some 80 km north of the border, but the report says the new zone will include the border post of Ji’an which is administered by Tonghua.

It gives few further details, but notes that when Premier Wen Jiabao visited North Korea last month he signed an agreement on building a new bridge across the Yalu river which would further boost Chinese-North Korean trade.

It also quotes the acting mayor of Tonghua, Tian Yulin, as saying that the new zone will transform the city from “inland” to “coastal” and “will promote trade between the inland cities of the northeast and North Korea and with the whole of northeast Asia.” The report adds that almost 60% of China’s trade with North Korea passes through Dandong.

This is not the only new development zone in China’s rustbelt northeast, which has been in severe economic decline in recent decades: a separate Chinese report announces the creation of another zone in Jilin, stretching from the capital Changchun in the centre of the province to the city of Jilin (or rather just part of it, for some unstated reason) as far as Yanbian on the North Korean border. This report does not mention North Korea directly but says the new zone will make the eastern border city of Hunchun an “open window” for regional trade, with Changchun and Jilin city “important supports.”

One-third of Jilin’s 26 million population live in the zone and it accounts for half of the province’s economic output, the report adds. See also this English-language report.

State-owned Tonghua Steel’s involvement in the Tonghua-Dandong zone is somewhat surprising as the ailing company has been rocked by unrest following an abortive attempt at a takeover deal by rival company Jianlong earlier this year. There was strong opposition to the deal on the part of workers who feared they would lose their jobs, and their fears turned to violence last July when a senior manager was murdered in mysterious circumstances.

The Chinese business magazine Caijing told how “the man’s death at the hands of unidentified killers uncovered an often antagonistic network of competing business interests and investors involved in Jianlong’s botched attempt to buy Tonggang.”

Tonghua Steel was in 2005 planning to sign a 7 billion yuan ($865 million), 50-year exploration rights deal with a North Korean iron ore mine, said to be the country’s largest iron deposit. The Chinese company was hoping to receive 10 million tonnes of iron ore a year from the Musan mine as part of its plans to increase steel production from a projected 5.5 million tonnes in 2007 to 10 million tonnes in 2010.

Tonggang boss An Fengcheng said at the time that agreement had already been reached with China Development Bank on 800 million yuan worth of soft loans and 1.6 billion yuan of hard loans, while “the remaining investment will come in in stages”. But it seems that the deal was never signed.

Caijing told how An, the steel mill’s chairman and Communist Party secretary, had “basically unlimited managerial control of Tonggang” and that the takeover by Jianlong was cancelled just a few hours after the murder of the manager Chen Guojin, who had come from Jianlong and was one of two Jianlong representatives on the board of Tonghua.

“There is no evidence to suggest An’s involvement in Chen’s death. But two weeks after the incident, he was sacked and stripped of all power by the Jilin provincial government. No other details of his removal were announced,” the magazine added.

ORIGINAL POST: According to the P.R. of China’s Global Times (Xinhua) via Adam Cathcart:

The Chinese government has approved a border development zone in the Tumen River Delta to boost cross-border cooperation in the Northeast Asian region, the provincial government of Jilin announced on Monday.The information office of the government said the pilot zone covering 73,000 square kilometers involved the cities of Changchun and Jilin as well as the Tumen River area.

Han Changbin, governor of Jilin, said the Changchun-Jilin-Tumen pilot zone was China’s first border development zone.

It is expected to push forward cross-border cooperation in the Tumen River Delta.

The delta, a 516-kilometer-long river straddling the borders of China, Russia and North Korea, was set up as an economic development zone in 1991 by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to promote trade.

In 1995, five countries – China, Russia, North Korea, South Korea and Mongolia – ratified the agreement on the Establishment of the Cooperation Commission for the Tumen River Economic Development Area (web page here). Japan participated in the program as an observer.

In 2005, the five signatories agreed to extend the agreement for another 10 years.

They also agreed to expand the area to the Greater Tumen Region and to further strengthen cooperation for economic growth and sustainable development for the peoples of Northeast Asia.

“Before the Changchun-Jilin-Tumen pilot zone was initiated, the Chinese part of the Tumen River area was mainly Huichun, a port city in Jilin, that has involved in the cross-border cooperation,” said Zhu Xianping, director of the Northeast Asia Research Institute of Jilin University in Changchun.

The 5,145-square-kilometer port city with a 250,000 population had limited industrial development capacity to develop infrastructure projects that will match the cross-border cooperation, he said.

Du Ying, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said that by bringing the two cities of Changchun and Jilin into the border zone, the zone could serve as a strategic platform to support the cross-border cooperation in the Greater Tumen Region.

Zhao Zhenqi, an assistant to the Jilin governor, said the central government has allowed the pilot zone to try new land use and foreign financing methods, such as sharing ports and sea routes with other countries in the region and setting up free trade zones.

Under the initiative of the pilot zone, local governments in the region could better interact to tackle development bottlenecks, he said.

The Northeast China region, rich in natural resources including coal and oil, is China’s traditional heavy industry base and granary. However, it also faces the challenges of industrial upgrading, resource depletion and financing bottlenecks.

Random thoughts and links:
1. The challenge facing north east China (as they see it) is the lack of a port city on the East Sea (or the Sea of Japan if you prefer).  This is where North Korea comes in.  China and Russia have long been trying to establish  use rights and/or control of Rason and Chongjin.  Russia recently built a “Russia-gague” railroad line from Rason to the DPRK-Russian border. The Chinese have been busy building roads.

2. (speculation) China is the DPRK’s largest trading partner.  International sanctions have given China monopsony power vis-a-vis the DPRK.  This means the Yuan goes farther in the DPRK than in other countries and it gives the PRC a financial incentive in the continued economic isolation of the DPRK.

3. Here is CCTV video.

4. Forbes covers this story here.