| North Korea and China agreed Tuesday to facilitate the setup of infrastructure at and development of two economic zones around their borders. Whether the prolonged deadlock in bilateral economic cooperation will finally bear fruit is attracting interest.
China`s Commerce Ministry said in a news release, "Presided over by Jang Song Taek, director of the the Ministry of Administration of the (ruling Workers`) Party of (North Korea), and Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, the third meeting for the joint development and management of the Rason Economic and Trade Zone and Hwanggeumpyong-Wihwado Economic Zone was held," adding, "Both countries said the two economic zones have entered a practical phase."
The ministry said both sides have seen advancement in setting up developmental guidelines and systems for the promotion of the projects and fostering of talent as well as legal systems. They also agreed on how to improve customs convenience and promote the communications and agricultural sectors.
Pyongyang and Beijing also announced management committees for the two zones and signed a deal on forming an economic, technology and agricultural alliance, operation and management of the committees, and power supply and establishment of a company in the Rason zone.
The Commerce Ministry said Rason will focus on raw materials, equipment, new advanced technologies and light, service and modern farming industries. The Hwanggeumpyong-Wihwado zone will concentrate on information, travel, culture and ideas, and medical processing to grow into a knowledge-based economic zone.
The Jang-led delegation left the meeting venue in the afternoon and went to Changchun in China`s Jilin province. They will be briefed on the Changchun, Jilin and Tuman development project and make a tour there.
The project has gained attention for being closely linked to the development of the Rason zone.
A source in Beijing said, "The Changchun, Jilin and Tuman development project has no meaning when excluding Rason. Touring Changchun is to stress the importance of Rason`s development to China."
The North Korean delegation is known to be guided by Sun Zhengcai, provincial secretary of Jilin, or Wang Rulin, acting governor of the region in Changchun. The delegates are also known to visit the historic site where North Korea founder Kim Il Sung conducted his anti-Japanese movement, a place where his son and successor Kim Jong Il visited in August 2010 and May last year.
Following their visit to Changchun, the delegation will head to Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province, and ask for active support to Liaoning on development of the Hwanggumpyong-Wihwado zone.
They will then return to Beijing Friday or Saturday for talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao before going home Sunday.