Many analyses of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea overstate change and understate continuity in North Korean politics and its international relations. Given the lack of credible and verifiable information on much of the affairs surrounding the country, it is easy to take any new information as indicative of a new trend. This is often the case with developments in the North Korean economy. Happenings in trade between North Korea and China are sometimes taken as a clear indication of a change in Chinese policy that does not exist.
When media outlets learned about a several day closure of the bridge between the Chinese city of Dandong and the North Korean city of Sinuiju, some took it as a sign that China was cracking down on trade with North Korea. Some took it even further to mean that China was punishing North Korea for its nuclear and missiles tests. Like news on trade, too much was made of this news. Closing the bridge down for (badly needed) repairs in December (when trade volumes are relatively low) is a sign that Chinese authorities are eager not to disrupt traffic flows.