China’s top diplomat in Moscow for bilateral discussions

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Today, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to discuss the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership.

North Korea will very likely be on today’s agenda; however, the focus could pivot from the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear ambitions to discussion about a Russian plan to expand entrance into the DPRK.

While the border between the DPRK and Russia is an 18-kilometre stretch, only one crossing links the countries, called the “Friendship Bridge”. About two weeks ago, Russian representatives travelled to the DPRK to discuss the idea of opening another bridge.

China too shares a border with the DPRK of nearly 1420 kilometres. With 23 automobile checkpoints between the two countries, over 80% of North Korean exports and imports involve China.

China will likely be receptive to Russia’s plan, but more for symbolic reasons than practical economic ones. Trade between Russia and North Korea remains insignificant, mostly because of UN sanctions and the very small size of the border. While another bridge would not improve trade, it could evoke a symbolic message that Russia intends on improving its historic diplomatic ties with North Korea.

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