Newly developed apartment and office buildings in Dandong, Northeast China's Liaoning Province File (Photo: VCG)
With a meeting between the leaders of the US and North Korea on the horizon, hope is rising again in Dandong, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, that the meeting will open up North Korea's economy and breathe more vitality into businesses in the Chinese city.
However, concerns remain over whether any substantial outcome to boost free trade can be achieved in the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which is scheduled later this week in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Dandong, a border city just across the Yalu River from North Korea, was relatively obscure on China's broad business landscape until last year. At that point, its housing price skyrocketed from around 3,000 yuan ($471) per square meter to 5,000 yuan, the Global Times reported at the time.
The surge came shortly after North Korea's announcement of plans to open up its economy in April and not long before the first US-North Korea summit in Singapore in June 2018.
But ahead of the upcoming summit, real estate prices have been stable as investors appear cautious in their investments, said Ming Yang, a real estate agent from Yicheng Real Estate Development Company in Dandong.
Still, local residents and business owners are anticipating this year's meeting will lead to a further thaw in bilateral relations between the US and North Korea and bringing more stimulus to Dandong's economy.
Dandong is likely to benefit from a considerable number of investment and job opportunities once the country is opened up for trade, they said.
Ming also has high hopes that the much-anticipated second meeting will bring more clients to his business, both local residents and those from other cities.
"A lot of my clients come to Dandong for its geographic location. People still believe that North Korea will be a land of opportunity once its potential is unleashed by Kim," Ming said. "Some people come here to buy their retirement houses, but a lot more are here to prepare for business once more trade is allowed with North Korea."