China constructing extensive transportation network along N. Korea border

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By Lee Jong-Heon,

China is building a massive highway and rail network along the border with North Korea in an apparent bid to tap into its neighbor’s natural resources and to secure easy access for troops in case of an emergency in the destitute nation.

Cargo trucks cross a rail bridge over the Yalu River into North Korea from China’s border city of Dandong on Dec. 22, 2011. /Yonhap News

China will spend more than $10 billion by 2015 for road projects in the border provinces of Liaoning and Jilin, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo reported, citing local government sources in the provinces.

China plans to complete construction of a 42-kilometer railway by the end of this year linking its northeastern city of Helong to the border town of Nanping, which faces Musan, the largest iron ore field in North Korea, the newspaper said.

According to separate sources in Seoul, China’s Tonghua Steel and Iron Group has bought 50-year mining rights to the Musan iron mine in North Korea for $910 million.

The mine is estimated to have reserves totaling more than 5 billion metric tons of iron ore, the key material for steel-making.

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