In search of foreign capital, North opens up Rajin port

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In search of foreign capital, North opens up Rajin port

North Korea has opened its northern port of Rajin to China, and will allow its major ally to use one of five docks for the next 10 years. Russia will be permitted to control another dock for the next five decades.

According to Chinese media yesterday, the Jilin Province government announced Sunday that it has acquired the rights to Rajin port and that the move will help the province develop into a logistical center in the Pacific.

North Korea is also expecting economic benefits from the deal. The North has been keen on developing the Rajin area into a major economic zone, especially as it suffers fallout from the botched currency reform last fall and the international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang following its nuclear test last May.

A senior Jilin official told Yonhap yesterday that China was working to customize its dock at Rajin and is investing tens of thousands of yuan into the project. The official explained that Jilin would then be able to ship coal and other materials to Shanghai and other parts of China, as well as to Japan and the Pacific region.

The Chinese media reported that other Jilin provincial officials have high expectations for access to the port, hoping that China’s three underdeveloped northeast provinces - Jilin, Heilongjiang and Liaoning - will grow into strategic economic locations.

Sun Zhengcai, the secretary of the provincial Communist Party committee, said the deal opens a new area of cooperation on infrastructure construction between Jilin and North Korea.

Russia will also benefit from its access to Rajin. The Sakhalin and Siberia regions will deliver crude oil and natural gas to the port and export them to neighboring countries from there.

North Korea began to develop the Rajin area in 1991, when Rajin and its bordering town, Sonbong, were merged to become Rason, the first free trade zone in the North. In January, the North designated Rason its first “special city,” where the country imposes fewer business restrictions as it tries to increase the inflow of foreign capital and trade.

Senior officials from Korea and China have recently traded visits. Most recently, in late February, Kim Yong-il, director of the international department at the ruling Workers’ Party, spent more than a week in China.


By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

中→1호 잡화 부두, 러→3호 컨테이너 부두 `교통정리`
`中 컨테이너는 청진항 이용` 관측도



중국과 러시아가 북한의 라진항 부두에 대해 각각 10년, 50년 기한의 사용권을 확보한 것으로 알려져 향후 나진항이 어떤 식으로 개발될지 관심을 모은다.

이 소식이 알려진 것은 중국 전국인민대표대회(전인대)에 참석중인 지린(吉林)성 연변조선족자치주 당위원회의 리룽시(李龍熙) 부서기 발언이 8일 중국 언론에 보도되면서부터지만 비슷한 관측이 나온 것은 비교적 오래 됐다.

갑자기 뉴스의 초점을 떠오른 라진항에는 1∼5호 5개 부두가 있다. 그러나 4∼5호는 소규모이거나 아직 개발이 끝나지않아 경제성이 떨어지고, 1∼2호 잡화 부두와 3호 컨테이너 부두가 주목을 받았다.

그동안 중국과 러시아가 라진항 3호 부두 사용권을 놓고 신경전을 벌인 것으로 알려졌는데, 이번 중국쪽 보도를 보면 3호 부두 사용권은 러시아쪽으로 가고 대신 중국은 1호 부두를 쓰는 것으로 정리된 듯하다.

실제로 리룽시 부서기는 연합뉴스와 단독 인터뷰에서 "라진항 3호 부두를 50년간 사용할 수 있는 권리가 러시아에 넘어갔다"고 밝혔다.
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