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New tourism projects between North Korea and China?

Written by editor

North Korea will send a 400-strong delegation to discuss among other issues, travel and tourism.

North Korea will send a 400-strong delegation to discuss among other issues, travel and tourism.

New tourism projects between North Korea and China will be on the agenda as the two nations are set to kick off their annual trade fair later this week, according to China’s state-run media on Monday.

North Korea and China have jointly held the trade fair in October since 2012 in the Chinese border city of Dandong, and this year’s fair will be held from Thursday for four days.

North Korea and China “will also discuss the launch of new tourism projects to North Korea during the expo,” the report said, without elaborating further.

Besides North Korea and China, companies from Hong Kong, Vietnam, Mongolia and Thailand will join this month’s North Korea-China Economic, Trade, Culture and Tourism Expo.

In the latest sign that Pyongyang and Beijing are trying to increase economic cooperation despite strained political ties, North Korea and China will launch a border trade zone in Dandong on Oct. 15 when the trade fair opens.

The Guomenwan trade zone in Dandong, where more than 70 percent of bilateral trade between the two nations is conducted, would cost a total investment of 1 billion yuan (US$157 million).

Under international sanctions over nuclear and missile ambitions, North Korea has promoted tourism as a source of much-needed hard currency.

There are no reliable statistics about how many foreign tourists visit North Korea each year, but media estimates showed that about 100,000 people, mostly Chinese, traveled to the North each year.

China is North Korea’s economic lifeline and diplomatic backer, although their political ties remain strained over the North’s defiant pursuit of nuclear weapons.