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Chinese province seeks to boost border tours to N. Korea

Sept. 12, 2015 - 13:14 By Yeo Jun-suk

The northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning plans to attract more tourists to border areas near North Korea, a Chinese official has said, in the latest sign of boosting tourism with the reclusive neighbor. 

   North Korea joined a three-day travel fair, which was held by the Liaoning province at the Chinese border city of Dandong and ended on Saturday. Tourism representatives from about 20 nations, including South Korea, Russia and Japan, also attended the annual fair. 

   Tong Zhiwu, deputy director of Liaoning's People's Standing Committee, said in the opening ceremony that Dandong, which has the Amnok River that divides North Korea and China, serves as "the biggest distribution center for tourism to North Korea." 

   In a statement posted on the website of the tourism bureau of Dandong on Friday, Tong said Liaoning province will further develop tour packages for border areas with North Korea. 

   Under international sanctions over nuclear and missile ambitions, North Korea has promoted tourism, as it is a source of much-needed hard currency. 

   There are no reliable statistics about how many foreign tourists visit North Korea each year, but media estimates showed that about 100,000 people, mostly Chinese, traveled to the North each year. 

   China is North Korea's economic lifeline and diplomatic backer, although their political ties remain strained over the North's defiant pursuit of nuclear weapons. (Yonhap)