Chinese Pressure Puts A Halt To North Korean Casino Project
The leader of North Korea Kim Jong-Un has reportedly halted an ongoing casino-related project because of pressure from Beijing.
The official word is that Kim Jong-Un has halted the construction of a hotel in Sinuiju, North Pyongyang Province. This hotel was supposed to include a casino as well.
The original plan was for the hotel to have 30 storeys but as of now only 20 storeys have been completed. The location is right on the Yalu river, across from China’s Dandong city. Kim Jong-Un decided to halt the project since it was considered a hindrance to getting investments from other countries. The decision to put an end to the project was made when Kim Jong-Un realized that China was looking at the project negatively.
The order to stop came directly from North Korea’s supreme leader who has been taking steps to increase the tourism potential of North Korea with its main trading partner. The ultimate goal is mainly to get more foreign currency into the North Korean economy. He has also started a casino project in Wonsan on the east coast. Sources also say that Kim reached out to US president Donald Trump for help in developing the project.
Estimates say the Wonsan project can potentially generate $50 million per year for North Korea. That is a lot of money for North Korea since it currently has an annual trade volume of just $7 billion.
China Disapproves Of Casino Project
Beijing has been cracking down on gambling related activities for the last few years and North Korea developing a new casino on the border does not help Beijing with its anti-gambling crackdown. It also does not help that the developer behind the supposed project is Chinese billionaire Yang Bin. Once the second-richest man in China, he was arrested by the Chinese authorities for tax evasion.
Bin was released in 2016. However, it seems he has reappeared in the Sinuiju area. He has had previous ties to the area, with Pyongyang hiring him back in 2002 to develop the Sinuiju economic zone. This put him in China’s crosshairs since having a capitalist enclave right on China’s borders could destabilize the region’s economy.
Since gambling is banned in mainland China, Chinese gamblers have been going abroad to get their gambling fix. This is usually to Macau and countries like Vietnam and the Philippines. A North Korean casino on the border would have surely been an attractive proposition for Chinese gamblers. If Pyongyang persists in developing gambling locations, experts say that China may start curbing the flow of capital and tourists into North Korea.
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