Corruption, Sanctions, Dandong

In two essays which I anticipate publishing this week (in NK News and CPI Analysis, respectively), I question the connection between Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption activity and the implementation of sanctions on North Korea.

Here are some of the data points I’m dealing with, in no particular order. Sadly, in pulling my research materials together, I found that the Hongxiang firm appears to have wiped its website of most of the good stuff. Likewise, a handful of promising blog entries published in mainland China in the last two weeks have been “harmonized” (i.e., deleted) by Chinese censors.

In a subsequent post on Sino-NK, I hope to discuss what I learned from conversations with Chinese counterparts I met with in Seoul last week, thanks to a small gathering sponsored by the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, a think-tank overseen by the ROK Foreign Ministry. There was some scuttlebutt there about the Hongxiang case, so my ideas were certainly workshopped, and, I think, of interest to Korean counterparts. However, the Hongxiang glimmers of positive collaboration were mainly overshadowed by a bruising US-China-ROK anti-missile debate that nearly got out of control at times. On the whole the ethos was one of healthy discussion and plenty of conversations over meals and drinks which one imagines to be where the real diplomacy actually takes place.

Anyway, a look at what we know about Dandong, the anti-corruption struggle in and around it, and a few related themes which I hope to bring together in my upcoming work:

  • South Korean newspaper interviews trader in Dandong who expresses surprise that PRC has not put tougher customs inspections on North Korea after the 5th nuclear test [“More robust N. Korea-China trade happens after nuclear test,” Dong-A Ilbo, 18 September 2016].
  • People’s Daily in Beijing describes a new wave of officials appointed in Liaoning, including a new Party Secretary for the CCP Party Committee (essentially the top job) in Dandong. [刘兴伟拟任辽宁丹东市委书记 高科拟任盘锦市委书记
    2016年09月19 人民网-地方领导]




Image: A night drive along the Yalu River, moon over the northeastern outskirts of Sinuiju, DPRK. Photo by Adam Cathcart, 2016. 

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