Dam News: China and DPRK Agreement on Yalu River Development

News is crackling along the frontiers of Sino-North Korean relations, and here at S.V. we thus are shaking off the torpor of spring to spring, metaphorically at least, over the Yalu.

c. 1895 self-portrait near the headwaters of the Yalu River, North Korean secret base camp of the General as backdrop, e.g., at the foot of Paektu-san/长白山

A wonderfully detailed and breathy dispatch from Dandong describes the signs of a Kim Jong-Il arrival like some kind of force of nature….While Chosun Ilbo spills doubt upon any hope of positive North Korean results.  Unfortunately for those who want to sanction North Korea into collapse, there was a bit of news which portends that the DPRK is getting yet more breathing room thanks to cooperation with China.

You can read about dam cooperation via Chris Green on the Daily NK, or you can get the original Chinese source served up right here, right now, for your convenience and reading pleasure:

中朝两国在鸭绿江新合建的两座水电站开工   // China and North Korea to Begin Construction on Two New Shared Hydroelectric Plants

Huanqiu Shibao, April 2, 2010 [translated by Adam Cathcart]

新华网吉林频道3月31日电(记者李双溪)31日, 中国与朝鲜在界河鸭绿江上共同建设的两座水电站开工。这两座电站总投资为11亿元人民币 ,建成后年发电量达3.08亿千瓦时。其中,望江楼(朝鲜称林土)电站计划投资6亿元,发电厂位于中方一侧,电站主要由混凝土重力坝、泄水闸、电站厂房及变电站等部分组成。On Jilin’s newschannel on 31 March, Xinhua’s reporter Li Shuangxi broadcast that China and North Korea would start joint construction on two hydropower plants in the border areas of the Yalu River. Investment on these two power plants will total 1.1 billion yuan, and the year after completion, they are projected to have a power generation capacity of 308 million kilowatts.  Among these plants are the Wangjiang Station (called Lintu by the Koreans), which is slated for 6oo million RMB of investment.   The power plant on the Chinese side will be a concrete gravity dam with a sluice gate and substation components.

[Lots of details follow on dam dimensions, projected electric output…It seems clear that China will bear all of the cost, though.]
2004年7月中朝双方审查通过了两座电站的初步设计,2006年中国有关部门批准了建设方案。2010年1月,双方在朝鲜签署了《中朝建设鸭绿江望江楼和文岳电站第九次会议纪要》,一致同意两电站开工建设。 In July 2004, China and the DPRK jointly reviewed the preliminary design of the two power stations.   In 2006, the Chinese authorities approved the construction plan.  In  January 2010, the two sides signed an agreement in North Korea known as the “Minutes of the Ninth Meeting on Sino-North Korean Construction of Yalu River Dams at Wangjianglou and Wenbing,” in which it was agreed to commence with the construction of the two power stations.
发源于长白山主峰、总长约795公里鸭绿江水能资源丰富,流经过吉林省和辽宁省。 目前在吉林省境内中朝双方已建有云峰、渭源两座水电站。 望江楼、文岳电站将成为双方共同受益的水电站,对开发鸭绿江、拉动吉林省和朝鲜的经济增长将起到积极的促进作用。Originating in the main peak of the Changbai Mountain range, with a total length of 795 km, the Yalu River is a rich resource flowing through Jilin and Liaoning provinces.  Currently, on the borders of Jilin Province, China and the DPRK have already built two jointly benefitted-from hydropower plants called Yunfeng and Weiyuan.  The Wangjianglou and Wenbing power stations will be built for of mutual benefit, developing the Yalu River, driving forward continued economic development between Jilin province and North Korea, playing a positive role.


I would respectfully disagree with the Daily NK analysis here which states that “Xinhua… contained no information about how the costs, or the electricity, would be shared out.”  I think the working assumption of any Chinese reader would be that China will bear all of the costs of the construction, and take less than half of the electricity.

Along more Yalu River lines: For a detailed look at Chinese looking down on North Korean poverty in Sinuiju, see this newly published travelogue from celebrated weekly Liaowang.  (Readers of this blog might remember that Liaowang is the magazine that gets reported on by Reuters only when someone in a PLA uniform says something provocative in it.  Hell yes!  When defense appropriations are on the line, no translation work is too small!  And when no threats are being made at the Foreign Reserve, who needs to translate that garbage anyway?  A politics of translation is really needed, explicit articulation…)

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