|China Is Spiriting Away N.Korea's Resources |
Chinese capital accounted for 43.7 percent of foreign direct investments to North Korea in 2005, up sharply from just 4.6 percent in 2002. In money terms, Chinese investments to North Korea rose tenfold over that period, from US$1.5 million to $14.37 million. The amount of Chinese capital that has entered North Korea without being properly reported is estimated to be far higher. What’s interesting is that 70 percent of the Chinese investments are focused on mining iron, copper and molybdenum. A representative example is China’s purchase for 7 billion yuan of the rights to mine North Korean iron ore in Musan for 50 years. Also increasing are Chinese investments in North Korean ports and highways to transport minerals. For example, China invested 30 million euros in the expansion of North Korea’s port of Najin, obtaining a 50-year lease to use the facility.
Aside from missiles and weapons of mass destruction, mineral resources are practically the only export products North Korea can sell on the international market. And those resources will be depleted after China is finished with them 50 years later. North Korea did not hand over the rights to those assets at a reasonable price. They’ve been sold for a bargain. These common resources of the Korean people, which will one day be used to build a unified Korea, are being handed over to the Chinese in such a helpless manner. We’re seeing a repeat of an embarrassing incident that happened 100 years ago, when we handed over rights to mine gold in Pyongan Province and logging near Mt. Baekdu to Western powers for a bargain.
Chinese products control more than 70 percent of the North Korean market. The North Korean economy is being rapidly incorporated into the Chinese economic sphere. That’s why there are people who say North Korea is becoming China’s fourth province in the northeast, after Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces.
If you look at the amount of economic assistance to North Korea, South Korea does not lag behind China. But South Korea has almost no influence over North Korea’s economy. The only achievement South Korea has made in terms of North Korean resource development is a graphite mine in Hwanghae Province by the South’s Korea Resources Corporation. In order to stop the tragedy of North Korea being relegated to the status of China’s next northeastern province and to prepare for post-unification of the Koreas, Seoul must focus on material gains for the Korean people, rather than generosity in its economic cooperation efforts with the North.