According to Chinese customs data, Chinese shipments to North Korea rose to US$16.8 million in July from US$12.3 million in June. That was still less than 10 per cent of the total shipments made in July 2019, months before the pandemic.
However, there have been signs that the two sides are seeking closer ties amid pressure from the US.
Ri, a former deputy premier in charge of trade who was named North Korea’s ambassador in February, said in an interview with Global Times earlier in August that the US was a threat to both China and North Korea, and the two neighbours needed to step up cooperation to tackle it.
In another rare meeting, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in May, Ri also pledged to build “unbreakable friendship” with China while Wang reaffirmed Beijing’s commitment to keep up strategic communication and help the sanctions-hit North cope with worsening economic problems amid a prolonged stalemate over
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un describes nation’s food situation as ‘tense’
Although there has been no sign of North Korea lifting its border restrictions, the meeting between Zhao and Ri came days after reports that the two countries had begun an investigation into the deaths of three
after their fishing boat landed on a North Korean island to take shelter during Typhoon In-fa in July.
Citing a source in China, Daily NK, a website based in the South Korean capital Seoul, said last week that the Chinese fishing boat left Zhuanghe port, near Dalian in northeast China, around July 25 and was heading to waters off North Korea’s North Pyongan province to catch crabs when the typhoon hit.
The boat eventually landed on an island in Cholsan county in North Pyongan, where North Korean soldiers discovered them and opened fire, the report said.
The Chinese public security ministry did not immediately reply to an inquiry about the incident from the South China Morning Post. The foreign ministry said last week that it was still verifying the report.