China sacrifices its North Korean pawn

The Friendship Bridge linking China and North Korea across the Yalu River
The Friendship Bridge over the Yalu River links Dandong, China with Sinuiju, North Korea. About 80% of all goods traded between the countries crosses here (source: dpa)
  • Illegal goods are regularly smuggled from China to North Korea
  • This trade benefits many in power
  • A recent scandal has brought down one of the biggest dealers
  • Illicit trade between the countries is unlikely to stop anytime soon

In September, the police department in China’s northeastern border province of Liaoning made a shocking announcement. The statement, posted on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site similar to Twitter, said that public security officials were investigating “serious economic crimes” allegedly committed by a company called Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Company Ltd. and its “relevant personnel.” The announcement went on to say that investigators had found “indisputable evidence” of wrongdoing. The news flabbergasted locals, especially in the city of Dandong, where the company is located. The owner of the company, Ma Xiaohong, is a well-known local politician and businesswoman.

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