“Amazing!” says Bloomberg, channeling some rather bullish conference remarks by a Chinese member of the relevant investment committee, “North Korean special economic zones (SEZs) on the Sino-Korean frontier might be ‘the next Shenzhen’.”
Now stop for a second and read for the silence in this story. North Korean representatives did not even attend the conference in question.
North Korean representatives don’t even attend most of the major regional conferences that regularly take place in Changchun, which is a (by North Korean standards) relatively fleet overland journey from the DPRK border.
Next to nothing has been done at one of the island zones near Dandong, as I reported from the border zone last month. Until the DPRK trusts their own representatives enough to send semi-empowered delegations to gin up foreign investment, they will dependent on enthusiastic Chinese boosters, whose patience – as even China Daily and Global Times are now noting with greater obviousness – may ultimately wear thin.