China ups use of N. Korean harbors to ship products south

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China, for the first time.

is using NorthKorea's Rajin harbor to ship food and supplies to its southern regions.

Many experts say the port's location makes it ideal for future development as a maritimehub.

And if Beijing has its way.

it could becomean important connecting point for President Xi's 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Kim Hyun-bin reports.

Chinese ships have been taking advantage ofa new sea route using North Korea's Rajin harbor and apparently, the arrangement isworking out.

Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday that anestimated 600 tons worth of Chinese food and lumber was ported in Rajin last year, en routeto Shanghai.

Xinhua emphasized that Rajin opens up a thirdmajor food supply route.

for Beijing, adding to its combination of pre-existing road, rail,and sea routes.

In 2015, China's total food production reachedover 620 million tons, with roughly 24 percent of those products coming from three northeastChinese cities including Jilin, and Liaoning.

They account for a huge portion, consideringthere are only five cities in Northeast China that are capable of exporting food supplies.

Beijing began using the North Korean port after signing an agreement with Pyongyangin late 2000 for the right to use Rajin and Chungjin harbors for up to 50 years.

Intially, it used Rajin to mainly export coal but starting last year it began to supportshipments of other goods.

Experts say as Chinese President Xi Jinpingcontinues to push his One Belt, One Road initiative, to develop a modern day Maritime Silk Road,Beijing will only ramp up its use of Rajin.

China is eagerly searching for a new traderoute in the East Sea that is able to connect to the European market.

Rajin is growing to become one of North Korea's biggest international ports and with it'sprime location in the northeast of the country, many believe the city has the potential todevelop into a Eurasia marine transport hub in the near future.

Kim Hyun-bin, Arirang News.