WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 (UPI) — The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission says it is unlikely close economic ties between China and North Korea will diminish in the near future.
In its recently issued annual report to Congress, the commission said more cooperation is to be expected, including increased deployment of North Korean workers to China.
According to the research, trade with China accounted for 91 percent of all foreign trade for North Korea in 2015.
North Korea-China trade has been experiencing some decline due to a downturn in commodity prices, but it has not affected overall trade flows, Voice of America reported Monday.
The commission also addressed the issue of North Korean workers in China.
As a labor force, the North Koreans have emerged as an important source of hard currency for the Kim Jong Un regime.
Quoting data provided by North Korean defectors, the report states that, “Pyongyang has steadily increased the number of workers it sends to China in recent years.”
“There are arrangements in Dandong and in Tumen…to allow North Korean laborers to cross the border for work,” the report says.
One estimate places the number of North Korean workers in China between 70,000 and 80,000.
About 34,000 of that number are employed in industries located in the two Chinese border cities, and about two-thirds of all income earned is remitted to the state.
North Korea is projected to send more workers to China.
Beijing also supports Pyongyang through projects involving solar panels and hydropower. Thanks to Chinese energy assistance, North Korea’s power situation has improved dramatically, according to the report.