On the 17th January and 11th August, multiple high-level North Korean military sources reported, “As yet North Korea and China are still not in full agreement about the Rajin Port lease arrangement, which China has taken on with definite military goals in sight." The two countries are still engaged in unofficial talks about the leasing arrangement for military purposes, according to the source. China wants to rent the port with the intention of establishing a naval base there.
Currently concrete agreement has been deferred over the issues of whether the lease period should be ten or twenty years between the North Korean and Chinese military planning operations agencies concerned with the project. "Construction of the Chinese naval base was blocked in January 2011 and there is a chance that it will begin this September," said the source. The Chinese navy takes the view that the ten year agreement would be of insufficient practical use for them. They believe that the necessary investment funds for development and remodeling are only worthwhile if it is used as a military port for 20 years.
The arrival and stay in Wonsan port between the 4th and 8th of the Chinese Navy training ships, the Zheng He and the Luoyang, is the kind of exercise reflecting current developments, and maybe a sign of things to come. North Korea's playing hard to get with regard to granting China full military rights to the port can be seen as an attempt to link the issue to greater economic support from its ally.
China secured the 50 year right to use Rajin port at the end of 2010. Holding rights to it as a quay for private use, it thereby secured all important new trade distribution channels in the Pacific region. The current unofficial attempt to reach agreement in the military sphere is, through securing a military presence in the port, an attempt by China to bolster its military influence in the Pacific against the US and Japan. Consequently, the construction of a navy base on North Korea's north-east coast is of crucial importance to China.
"North Korea is deliberately stoking and protracting the issue of China's base construction and therefore its goal of expanding its military and political influence in the Pacific and willfully inducing confrontation, so that it can secure more economic support from China," finished the source.
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