China business is brisk on N. Korea's trade lifeline

China business is brisk on N. Korea's trade lifeline

DANDONG, China - On China's economic front line with North Korea, rocket launches are far from traders' minds and few worry about sanctions impeding the flow of cars -- or pianos.

China is by far North Korea's biggest trading partner and most of the business passes through its northeastern city of Dandong, where lorries piled high with tyres and sacks were being processed on Friday at a customs post.

Some travellers waiting to cross to the North through an immigration checkpoint were carrying wreaths, apparently to mark Monday's first anniversary of the death of leader Kim Jong-Il.

If the United States, South Korea, Japan and others want to tighten the economic screws on the North after what they see as a banned ballistic missile test ordered by Kim's son and heir Jong-Un, here would be a good place to start.

But Chinese traders do not expect Wednesday's launch to have a significant effect on commercial ties, which so far have survived previous efforts to sanction Pyongyang.

Some said life in the isolated state was getting better under Jong-Un.

Sun Xiaowei, who works for a company producing wiring in North Korea for export to China and on to South Korea, shrugged off any concerns. Business was "very good", he said.

China has long been the North's most important ally and has also become its biggest trading partner in recent years as business with South Korea and Japan has withered in the wake of Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development, and other tensions.

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