>> Things aren't supposed to be this quiet in Dandong. This former border boom town is the main gateway for trade between China and North Korea. But today, business is dragging. China slammed the door on North Korea's coal trade last week. Beijing's latest move to enforce UN sanctions into pinching off hard currency.
That could be used for Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs. Reuters Brenda Goh visited Dandong and discovered that actually things have been bad for some time.>> I spoke to a truck driver who said that the amount of cargo that they were shuttling back and forth from the bridge behind me between China and North Korea have fallen drastically.
He said that two years ago when he first came to Dandong to be a truck driver, he could do 20 trips in one month, atleast one a day. But last year in two months he did only about ten trips. So lots of truck drivers are now finding it difficult to find cargo to bring across.
He also said that most trucks return empty from the North Korea city just across the river from Dandong. And that many trucks already stopped bringing in coal and other chemicals last year.>> Dandong started feeling the pinch after China first banned North Korean coal last April. In order to comply with UN sanctions, but that measure wasn't fully implemented.
China actually bought 15% more North Korean Coal in 2016. Thanks to a loophole in the sanctions. But the imports we're funneled mostly to larger port cities along China's East Coast. Today, many of the hundreds trading companies set up during Dandong's good years have folded. It's still not clear how rigorously China will enforce it's latest coal ban.
But broad UN sanctions have stripped many North Korean buyers of their cash. Sources saying that today even Dandong's border smugglers are struggling to make a living.