China–North Korea border

The China–North Korea border is the international border separating the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). It runs for 1,352 km (840 mi) from the estuary of the Yalu River in the Korea Bay in the west to the tripoint with Russia in the east.[1]

China–North Korea border
Border stone china-corea.jpg
Inscription stone marking the border of China and North Korea in Jilin
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese中朝边境
Traditional Chinese中朝邊境
Korean name
Chosŏn'gŭl
조선민주주의인민공화국-중화인민공화국 국경
Hancha
朝鮮民主主義人民共和國·中華人民共和國 國境
Revised RomanizationJoseon Minjujuui Inmin Gonghwaguk – Junghwa Inmin Gonghwaguk Gukgyeong
McCune–ReischauerChosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwagukᆞ – Chunghwa Inmin Konghwaguk Kukkyŏng
Chinese and North Korean boundary markers

GeographyEdit

 
Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge (right), linking Dandong with North Korea

From west to east, the Yalu River,[2] Paektu Mountain, and the Tumen River divides the two countries.

Dandong, in the Liaoning Province of China, on the Yalu River delta, is the largest city on the border.[3] On the other side of the river is the city of Sinuiju in North Pyongan Province, North Korea. The two cities are situated on the Amnok river delta at the western end of the border, near the Yellow Sea. Their waterfronts face each other and are connected by the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge.

There are 205 islands on the Amnok River. A 1962 border treaty between North Korea and China split the islands according to which ethnic group were living on each island. North Korea possesses 127 and China 78. Due to the division criteria, some islands such as Hwanggumpyong Island belong to North Korea even though they are on the Chinese side of the river. Both countries have navigation rights on the river, including in the delta.

The source of the Amnok River is Heaven Lake on Paektu Mountain, which is considered the birthplace of the Korean and Manchu peoples. This lake is also the source of the Tumen River which forms the eastern portion of the border.

HistoryEdit

Historically the border areas have been contested by successive Chinese and Korean polities, though the current border utilising the Yalu-Tumen rivers appears to have been in place by the mid 15th century.[4][5] The Manchu (Qing) dynasty of China managed to consolidate control of north-east China (Manchuria) and establish a nebulous 'tributary' rule over Joseon Korea.[5] In 1712 the Chinese Emperor Kangxi and Joseon King Sukjong authorised a border mission to analyse the border alignment in the vicinity of the Yalu-Yumen headwaters on Mount Paektu.[4][6] A pillar was erected indicating the border alignment in this section, and a demilitarised neutral zone set along the frontier.[4][6] In 1875 China, fearful of the Russia presence to the east, occupied its section of the neutral zone.[6] A Chinese-Korean boundary team surveyed the Mt Paektu area in 1885–87, however there were disputes over whether the pillar had been moved, and the two sides were unable to agree precisely which of the several headwater streams should form the frontier.[4][7] In 1889 the Chinese unilaterally demarcated a frontier in the area, marking it with a series of posts, however these were later destroyed by the Koreans.[4] Korea also made periodic claims to Korean-inhabited lands (Jiandao) north of the Tumen.[4]

In the early 20th century Korea came under the increasing influence of Japan, and by 1905 it was deemed a Japanese protectorate.[4] In 1909 China and Japan signed the Gando Convention, whereby Korea was made to renounce any claims north of the Yalu-Tumen line in return for extensive Chinese concessions to Japan.[4] In the Mount Paektu area the 1712 pillar was confirmed as the border marker, and the Shiyi/Sogul headwater stream utilised up to the Tumen border.[4] The following year Japan formally annexed Korea.[8] In 1962, with Japanese rule in Korea over and with both China and North Korea now forming Communist states, a border treaty was signed which fixed the boundary line along the Yalu and Tumen rivers, with the middle overland section running across Mount Paektu and through Heaven Lake.[5][9] A subsequent protocol of 1964 allocated the numerous riverine islets, granting 264 to North Korea and 187 to China.[4]

Trade and contactEdit

 
The Beijing–Pyongyang passenger train passes Dandong

Its border with China has been described as North Korea's "lifeline to the outside world."[10] Much of the China-North Korea trade goes through the port of Dandong.[2]

Chinese cell phone service has been known to extend as far as 10 km (6 mi) into Korean territory, which has led to the development of a black market for Chinese cell phones in the border regions. International calls are strictly forbidden in North Korea, and violators put themselves at considerable peril to acquire such phones.[11]

Tourists in Dandong can take speedboat rides along the North Korean side of the Amnok River and up its tributaries.[12]

A common wedding day event for many Chinese couples involve renting boats, putting life preservers on over their wedding clothes, and going to the North Korean border to have wedding photos taken.[13]

Memory cards and teddy bears are reportedly among the most popular items for North Koreans shopping in Dandong.[14]

CrossingsEdit

 
The Ji'an Railway Bridge between Ji'an, Jilin Province and Manpo, Chagang Province of North Korea.
China-North Korea Border Crossings[15]
Name Bordering
Chinese town
Bordering
Korean town
Open to
third
country
nationals
Railway crossing Notes
Hwanggumpyong Island Tangchi,
Zhenxing, Dandong
Sindo,
North Pyongan Province
No No Planned
New Yalu River Bridge Tangchi,
Zhenxing, Dandong
Sinuiju,
North Pyongan
Yes No Under construction
Yalu River Broken Bridge Tangchi,
Zhenxing, Dandong
Sinuiju,
North Pyongan
No No Defunct
Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge Tangchi,
Zhenxing, Dandong
Sinuiju,
North Pyongan
Yes Yes Opened[a]
Yalu River Broken Wooden Pontoon Zhenzhu Subdistrict,
Zhen'an, Dandong
Sinuiju,
North Pyongan
No Yes Defunct
Hekou Broken Bridge Changdian,
Kuandian, Dandong
Sakchu County,
North Pyongan
No No Defunct
Upper Hekou Railway Bridge Changdian,
Kuandian, Dandong
Sakju,
North Pyongan
No Yes Opened
Ji'an Railway Bridge Ji'an City,
Tonghua
Manpo,
Chagang
No Yes Opened
Ji'an Road Bridge Ji'an City,
Tonghua
Manpo,
Chagang
No No Opened
Chagang Samgang Railway Bridge Yunfeng Lake,
Ji'an, Tonghua
Manpo,
Chagang
No Yes Defunct
Kuunbong Railway Bridge Yunfeng Lake,
Ji'an, Tonghua
Chasong,
Chagang
No Yes Defunct
Linjiang Yalu River Bridge Linjiang City,
Baishan
Chunggang,
Chagang
No No Opened
Changbai-Hyesan Bridge Changbai,
Baishan
Hyesan,
Ryanggang Province
No No Opened
Karim Bridge Ershidaogou,
Changbai, Baishan
Pochon,
Ryanggang
No No Defunct
Samjiyon crossing Erdaobaihe,
Antu, Yanbian
Samjiyon,
Ryanggang
No No Near Paektu Mountain
Guchengli Bridge Chongshan,
Helong, Yanbian
Taehongdan,
Ryanggang
No No Opened
Nanping Bridge Nanping,
Helong, Yanbian
Musan,
North Hamgyong
No No Opened
Sanhe Bridge Sanhe,
Longjing, Yanbian
Hoeryong,
North Hamgyong
No No Opened
Chaokai Bridge Kaishantun,
Longjing, Yanbian
Sambong,
Onsong, North Hamgyong
No No Opened
Tumen Border Railway Bridge Tumen City,
Yanbian
Namyang,
Onsong, North Hamgyong
Yes Yes Opened
Tumen Border Road Bridge Tumen City,
Yanbian
Namyang,
Onsong, North Hamgyong
Yes No Opened
Liangshui Broken Bridge Liangshui,
Tumen, Yanbian
Onsong,
North Hamgyong
No No Defunct
Hunyung Railway Bridges Ying'an,
Hunchun, Yanbian
Hunyung,
Kyongwon, North Hamgyong
No Yes Defunct
Shatuozi Bridge Sanjiazi,
Hunchun, Yanbian
Kyongwon,
North Hamgyong
No No Opened
Quanhe-Yunting Bridge Jingxin (敬信),
Hunchun, Yanbian
Wonjong,
Sonbong,
Rason
Yes No

Opened[b]

  1. ^ There are four weekly trains with hard and soft sleepers from Beijing to Pyongyang via the Sino–Korean Friendship Bridge, as well as a weekly carriage attached to the Vladivostok train from Moscow, via Harbin, Shenyang, and Dandong.[16]
  2. ^ Special entry permits are required to enter Rason instead of the standard DPRK visa.[17]

Border securityEdit

 
The border at the Amnok River delta near Dandong in 2012

The 1,420 km border between North Korea and China has been described as "porous".[10] Many North Korean defectors cross into China.

The Chinese government transferred responsibility for managing the border to the army from the police in 2003.[18] Chinese authorities began building wire fences "on major defection routes along the Tumen River" in 2003.[19] Beginning in September 2006,[19] China erected a 20 kilometres (12 mi) fence on the border near Dandong, along stretches of the Yalu River delta with lower banks and narrower width.[2] The concrete and barbed wire fence ranged in height from 8 feet (2.4 m) to 15 feet (4.6 m).[19]

In 2007 a U.S. official stated that China was building more "fences and installations at key border outposts".[20] In the same year, it was reported that North Korea had started building a fence along a 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) stretch of its side of the Yalu River, and had also built a road to guard the area.[21][22]

In 2011 it was reported that China was building fences 4 metres (13 ft) high near Dandong, and that 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) of this new fencing had been built. It was also reported that China was reinforcing patrols, and that new patrol posts were being built on higher ground to give wider visibility over the area. According to a resident of the area: "It's the first time such strong border fences are being erected here. Looks like it is related to the unstable situation in North Korea." The resident also added that previously "anybody could cross if they really wanted" as the fence had only been 10 feet (3.0 m) with no barbed wire.[23][24]

In 2014, an Australian journalist who visited Dandong reported a low level of border security.[25][26] In 2015, fencing was reported as the exception rather than the rule.[27] In 2015, a photojournalist who traveled along the Chinese side of the border commented that fencing was rare and that it would be easy to cross the Amnok river when it was frozen. The same report noted friendly contact between people on opposite sides of the border.[28] In 2018, a photojournalist drove along the border and described it as "mile after mile of nothing, guarded by no-one".[29]

 
Railway bridge over the Tumen River

In 2015, a single rogue North Korean soldier killed four ethnic Korean citizens of China who lived along the border of China with North Korea.[30]

Rumours of Chinese troop mobilizations on the border frequently circulate in times of heightened tension on the Korean peninsula. According to scholar Adam Cathcart, these rumours are hard to substantiate and hard to interpret.[31]

A leaked China Mobile document that went viral on Chinese social media on 7 December 2017 allegedly revealed Chinese government plans to construct five "refugee settlement points" along the border to North Korea in Changbai county and Jilin province.[32][33] This was apparently in preparation for a large influx of North Korean refugees if the Kim regime collapsed in a potential conflict with the United States. The Guardian quoted the document: "Due to cross-border tensions … the [Communist] party committee and government of Changbai county has proposed setting up five refugee camps in the county."[34]

MapsEdit

Coastal border region (Korea Bay)[a]
Southern/Western border region[b]
Northern/Eastern border region[a]
US Department of State map of the China-Korea border
Historical English-language maps of the China-Korea (PRC-DPRK) border from west to east (south to north) from the International Map of the World produced by the US Army's Army Map Service and the Defense Mapping Agency, mid-20th century. The map on the far right was produced by the US Department of State in 1962, and shows the former disputed zone around Mount Paektu.

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b from map: "DELINEATION OF INTERNATIONAL BOUNDARIES MUST NOT BE CONSIDERED AUTHORITATIVE"
  2. ^ from map: "THE REPRESENTATION OF INTERNATIONAL BOUNDARIES ON THIS MAP IS NOT NECESSARILY AUTHORITATIVE."

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Korea, North". CIA World Factbook. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Kanto, Dick K. and Mark E. Manyin. China-North Korea Relations Archived 2017-12-28 at the Wayback Machine, Congressional Research Service (December 28, 2010).
  3. ^ Rogers, Jenny. "New group reaches out to China Archived 2012-10-06 at the Wayback Machine." Gold Coast Bulletin. October 2, 2012. Retrieved on October 23, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "China's Impact on Korean Peninsula Unification and Questions for the Senate". U.S. Government Printing Office. 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Gomà Pinilla, Daniel (23 April 2007). "Border Disputes between China and North Korea". China Perspectives. 2004 (2). doi:10.4000/chinaperspectives.806. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Zabrovskaya (2007). "A Brief History of the Sino-Korean Border from the 18th to the 20th century". Korea Yearbook, 2007: Politics, Economy and Society. BRILL.
  7. ^ Song, Nianshen (2017). "The Journey towards "No Man's Land": Interpreting the China-Korea Borderland within Imperial and Colonial Contexts". The Journal of Asian Studies. 76 (4): 1035–1058. doi:10.1017/S002191181700078X. S2CID 164619442. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  8. ^ Caprio, Mark (2009). Japanese Assimilation Policies in Colonial Korea, 1910–1945. University of Washington Press. pp. 82–83. ISBN 9780295990408.
  9. ^ Fravel, M. Taylor (2005-10-01). "Regime Insecurity and International Cooperation: Explaining China's Compromises in Territorial Disputes". International Security. 30 (2): 46–83. doi:10.1162/016228805775124534. ISSN 0162-2889. S2CID 56347789.
  10. ^ a b Onishi, Norimitsu. "Tension, Desperation: The China-North Korean Border Archived 2017-05-06 at the Wayback Machine." The New York Times. October 22, 2006. Retrieved on October 23, 2012.
  11. ^ "North Korea: On the net in world's most secretive nation (BBC)". BBC News. 10 December 2012. Archived from the original on 2018-10-23. Retrieved 2018-07-21.
  12. ^ "A trip to the North Korea-China border, in photos". NK News. 29 May 2015. Archived from the original on 17 June 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  13. ^ Hessler, Peter (2006). Oracle Bones. New York et al.: Harper Perennial. pp. 62. ISBN 9780060826581.
  14. ^ Reuters (4 December 2016). "Thanks for the memory cards; North Koreans return from China". www.atimes.com. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  15. ^ https://mansudae-korea.com/2020/02/tracing-china-dprk-border-crossings/
  16. ^ "Trans-Siberian Railway Tours" Accessed 2014-05-25
  17. ^ "North Korea Fast-Tracks Entry Visas For Rason SEZ". 2016-09-26. Archived from the original on 2019-01-04. Retrieved 2019-01-04.
  18. ^ Foley, James. “China Steps Up Security on North Korean Border”, Jane's Intelligence Review, 1 November 2003.
  19. ^ a b c Ng Gan Guan, China Erects Fence Along N. Korea Border Archived 2018-04-28 at the Wayback Machine, Associated Press (October 16, 2006).
  20. ^ "www.dailynk.com "China Troops Increase at North Korean Border"". 13 November 2008. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  21. ^ www.edmontonsun.com "North Korea building fence on China border"
  22. ^ "Report: N. Korea building fence to keep people in". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on 1 May 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  23. ^ Foster, Peter and agencies, Beijing. "China builds higher fences over fears of instability in North Korea Archived 2018-05-02 at the Wayback Machine." The Daily Telegraph. March 30, 2011. Retrieved on October 26, 2012.
  24. ^ "China boosts North Korea border fence Archived 2014-10-21 at the Wayback Machine." The China Post. Thursday March 31, 2011. Retrieved on October 26, 2012.
  25. ^ Hardy, Elle (18 September 2014). "Comment: The absurdities faced by North Korean refugees in China". SBS News. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  26. ^ "Comment: The absurdities faced by North Korean refugees in China". Archived from the original on 2014-10-11. Retrieved 2014-10-07.
  27. ^ Rob York (25 February 2015). "The myth of a sealed China-N. Korea border". NK News. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  28. ^ "A trip to the North Korea-China border, in photos". NK News. 29 May 2015. Archived from the original on 17 June 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  29. ^ Sagolj, Damir (15 April 2018). "A road trip on the edge of North Korea". Reuters. Archived from the original on 21 April 2018. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  30. ^ https://www.yahoo.com/news/runaway-n-korean-soldier-kill-four-chinese-reports-060526414.html?bcmt=1420505551797-974622bd-2486-431b-8e29-2290873790fc&ref=gs Archived 2016-09-20 at the Wayback Machine https://www.yahoo.com/news/china-village-defenceless-against-north-korean-intruders-055043942.html?ref=gs Archived 2016-09-20 at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ Cathcart, Adam (20 October 2017). "Tigers in the Haze: Chinese Troops on the Border with North Korea in the 'April Crisis'". China Brief, Jamestown University. Archived from the original on 29 October 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  32. ^ "US-North Korea tensions fuel fears on Chinese border". Financial Times. 10 December 2017. Archived from the original on 13 December 2017.
  33. ^ Perlez, Jane (2017-12-11). "Fearing the Worst, China Plans Refugee Camps on North Korean Border". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2017-12-13. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  34. ^ Phillips, Tom (2017-12-12). "China building network of refugee camps along border with North Korea". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 2017-12-13. Retrieved 2017-12-13.

External linksEdit