China has long been North Korea’s main ally and trading partner, but relations are increasingly strained by continued missile testing and provocations by the regime of Kim Jong Un.
The North is almost entirely dependent on trade with China to feed its impoverished economy, yet it has ignored calls by the international community to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs. At least three-quarters of trade between the two nations flows through points along its 880-mile-long shared border, a divide that reveals stark contrasts in development. Cities such as Dandong boast high-rise buildings and advanced infrastructure, and the Friendship Bridge serves as the conduit for the bulk of trade. From hired boats along the Yalu River, Chinese tourists peer into the reclusive north, marked by soldiers, meager villages, and depleted farmland.
The United States has pressured China to do more to leverage its clout with North Korea, though Beijing remains concerned that outright regime collapse in Pyongyang could trigger a rush of refugees across the border. (Getty Images)
Photography by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images