According to Chinese state media, the amount of Chinese trade with its isolated North Korean neighbor has more than doubled in the first seven months of this year compared with the same period in 2010.
While various international sanctions have reduced North Korea’s foreign investment to a dribble, China has doubled its trade volume with the impoverished country.
According to Chinese vice-premier Le Keqiang, who is on an official visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, bilateral trade volume amounted to US$3.1 billion in the first seven months of 2011, registering a year-on-year increase of 87 percent.
In a report by the Chinese state mouthpiece, the Xinhua news agency said that “the relationship between China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is entering a new era of vigorous development and boasts a bright future,” and that “China will continue to make unremitting efforts to consolidate and develop friendship and cooperation with the DPRK, and is willing to work with the DPRK side to push the bilateral ties to higher levels.”
Li also stressed that the DPRK's increased emphasis on economic development and improving living standards is broadening its foreign economic cooperation and attracting more Chinese enterprises to do business and invest in the country.
North Korea relies heavily on China for food and fuel aid and many consumer products. Chinese companies are the main investors in North Korean mining, and the sides recently signed agreements on road building and jointly developing an industrial park on an island near the Chinese city of Dandong.
However, bilateral trade between China and North Korea still is dwarfed by economic ties between China and South Korea.
Trade between Beijing and Seoul rose more than 20 percent in the first eight months of the year to $159 billion and is expected to hit about $250 billion for all of 2011. China is South Korea's largest trade partner.