China Built A $350 Million Bridge That Ends In A Dirt Field In North Korea


China and North Korea are connected through cities of Dandong in China and Sinuiju in North Korea, where the Yalu River divides the two countries at the border. In the past, the state of the bridges over the Yalu River has successfully mirrored the relationship between the two countries. There were multiple attempts to construct and destroy bridges over the years to replicate their feelings towards each other. This time on the Yalu River, a third bridge costing $350 million (approximately 2.2 billion yuan) was meant to symbolize the newly found friendship and trade links between China and North Korea. However, the inauguration of the bridge was postponed from October 2014 to indefinitely. There is a dirt field at the North Korean side of the bridge where infrastructure was to be built to support the trade. However, the bridge has not been opened and no signs of construction or commercial activity are to be sighted.

The unfinished New Yalu River bridge that was designed to connect China’s Dandong New Zone, Liaoning province, and North Korea’s Sinuiju, September 11, 2016, by Thomas Peter

The bridge is almost Cable-Stayed and 3 Kilometers long, however, due to the project being stalled, North Korea has not built any roads or any other infrastructure around their end of the bridge, ending the bridge in a dirt field. The Dandong City launched a five-star Beijing Hotel in 2012 in hopes to boost the economy of the otherwise relatively less developed city and to make export-oriented economic reforms with their neighbor. However, when Korea carried out their fifth and biggest nuclear test in the early Sept 2016, all hopes to have the bridge opened were laid to waste. The North Korean side is, what now looks like, a field and the Chinese side has been deserted and locked down surrounded by barbed wires. The picture of the state of ties between North Korea and China.

A largely empty Commercial Street in the New Zone urban development in Dandong, Liaoning province, China September 11, 2016, by Thomas Peter.

Earlier attempts to tie the bond between two countries by the means of a new trade link were established in 1909 and then again in 1943. One such attempt was the construction of Sino–Korean Friendship Bridge or China–North Korea Friendship Bridge by Imperial Japanese Army. The construction, completed in mid-1943, was done under the occupation of the China and North Korea by the Army at the time. The bridge was successful in connecting the Dandong to Sinuiju through Rail and Road. It was named Yalu River Bridge in 1990. However, both of these bridges, from 1909 and 1943, were demolished by American aircraft in Korean war to cut off supplies to North Korea via China. Although the repairs were made to the Yalu River Bridge, the older bridge remained destroyed as a monument and was called ‘Broken Bridge’.

The Yalu Bridge built in 1943 (Left) & the Broken Bridge built in 1909 (Right). Credits Wikipedia

In conclusion, what happens further between the two countries and consequently to the bridge ending in dirt field remains to be seen.


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