More than 70 million Chinese who live in provinces on the 1,415- kilometer, or 880-mile, border with North Korea are paying a price for their government’s 60-year alliance with the totalitarian regime in Pyongyang.
Trade with South Korea, one of China’s biggest commerce partners, is routed toward coastal cities, and projects including a development zone on the Tumen River delta — where China, North Korea and Russia meet — may languish unless Kim Jong-il allows some economic freedom, said Jin Qiangyi, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at Yanbian University, about 50 kilometers from Tumen.
“The border is a dead border,” said Mr. Jin, an ethnic Korean. Although China is encouraging North Korea to open up, it “is refusing. It is very difficult.”