BEIJING -- A major border bridge between China and North Korea was closed for repairs Monday, temporarily cutting off a vital trade corridor between the two countries.
China's Foreign Ministry maintains that repairs to the China-North Korea Friendship Bridge over the Yalu River are being made at the North Koreans' request. Beijing denies any link between the bridge closure and international sanctions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile program.
The repair work is scheduled to last until Dec. 20, upon which the bridge will reopen, said a local source.
The bridge connects Dandong, a port city in Liaoning Province in northeast China, with North Korea's Sinuiju region. Dandong accounts for 70% of China's trade with the North, and the iron bridge serves as the only direct road connection to the city from the North Korean side.
Numerous trucks travel back and forth across the bridge, but the structure is showing its age after more than 70 years in service. The bridge has been closed before for repair and maintenance when needed.
The 10-day repair work is "a common timeframe," said a source familiar with the project. "The time may be shortened or lengthened depending on the progress."