Kim Jong-un looks at something. (Photo/Xinhua)
After obtaining the right to use Rashin Port in North Korea, China recently won the right to use Chongjin, another North Korean port, for a period of 30 years, according to several South Korean media reports on Sept. 11.
South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo said China had secured the port with the aim of initiating trade with Korea, Japan and Russia and developing China's northeastern region economically.
Meanwhile, South Korea's largest news agency Yonhap commented that the economic cooperation between China and North Korea could hinder the economic integration of the two Koreas.
Several Korean media organizations quoted Jilin-based Chinese newspaper Yanbian Ribao as reporting that Yanbian Haihua Group, a private Chinese developer, had signed a formal contract with a North Korean firm on Sept. 1 to jointly manage and use the no. 3 and 4 piers of Chongjin port for the next 30 years. The port has an annual turnover of 7 million tons.
JoongAng Ilbo cited Chinese news reports that North Korea would invest 6.12 million euro (US$7.89 million) as operating capital, while China would invest €9.34 million (US$12.04 million) in cargo-loading equipment, transport tools and harbor-construction materials.
China is planning to make its first shipment through the port within this year, according to the report.
The two sides aim to increase the port's cargo transport volume to more than 1 million tons by 2015 from the current tens of thousands of tons.
China's Global Times confirmed this news.
Chongjin, the capital of North Hamgyong province, is the third largest city in North Korea and the most important port and industrial city in the northern part of the country's east coast.
The port is divided into two areas. The eastern area is in Chongjin city with two piers, while the western area is far from the city's downtown area and has four piers.
It was reported that Yanbian Haihua Group, which focuses on construction and trade, had invested 60 million yuan (US$9.48 million) in the hoisting equipment necessary for the port's development.
Yonhap said the China-North Korean economic cooperation was established to meet the needs of the two countries. North Korea needs foreign capital to develop its special economic zone, while China needs Korea's marine resources and the business opportunities from the development of the port. However, their cooperation could hinder the economic integration of the two Koreas.
South Korea's Chosun Ilbo said China had expressed great interest in using the port a long time ago because it wanted the right of access to the sea in the eastern part of the Korean peninsula.
In the past, China mainly used inland railways to transport resources from northeast China to southeast China. If China can use the port on Korea's eastern coast, it could sharply reduce its logistical expenses.
It was reported that China would have to compete with Russia, which had obtained the right to operate in the port earlier.
Pyongyang signed a similar deal with another Chinese firm in 2008 to share its right to use Rajin Port, just north of Chongjin Port, paving the way for China's presence in the East Sea area.