Executive Intelligence Review


‘Getting North Korea On Board Belt and Road Initiative Will Be Easier Than Expected’

June 15, 2018 (EIRNS)—The above is the headline in Global Times on June 13, discussing how easily North Korea could be integrated into the Belt and Road Initiative and facilitate the economic integration of Northeast Asia.

Author Hu Weijia cites data from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency revealing that North Korea’s economy is not as dilapidated as popularly suggested. In fact CIA data showed that in 2014 the total length of North Korea’s railway network reached 7,435 km of standard gauge track, which was about twice that of South Korea; 5,400 km of that is electrified. While much of the economy is weak, this railway network is key for integrating the country into regional transport networks with neighboring China and South Korea, and hence the Belt and Road network.

Following the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un, writes Hu, now is the time to begin lifting sanctions and “gradually shift to economic assistance” and “giving priority to economic development.”

Hu writes that South Korea is ready to move, citing the fact that South Korean President Moon Jae-in gave Chairman Kim a UBS flash drive by during their April 27 summit containing the plans for economic development, including electric power infrastructure, railways and highways, that could be built if Pyongyang works toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The article concludes:

“North Korea has economic and geographic advantages to join the B&R, which will help the country realize its economic potential. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. However, getting North Korea into the B&R initiative to promote economic integration may be easier than what people would have imagined.”