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Exclusive: China curbs tourism to North Korea ahead of Trump visit - sources

From Reuters - November 7, 2017

BEIJING/SEOUL (Reuters) - Chinese tour operators based in the border city of Dandong have been told to halt trips to the North Korean capital Pyongyang, five sources told Reuters on Tuesday, the day before U.S. President Donald Trumps first official visit to China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will host Trump in Beijing on Wednesday, with North Koreas development of nuclear weapons expected to top their agenda. The United States has been pressuring China to do more to rein in its neighbor and ally.

Tourism is one of the few remaining ways North Korea earns hard currency, as the United Nations has ramped up sanctions on the country over the past year, curbing key export industries including coal, seafood and textiles.

It was very unexpected, we had no idea this was going to happen until we received the notification today, said a Chinese tour operator who runs trips to North Korea out of Dandong.

This is devastating news for us, he said, adding the order had come from the Dandong Tourism Bureau.

The sources Reuters interviewed for this story all requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The Dandong Tourism Bureau was not immediately reachable for comment late on Tuesday. Chinas foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent after working hours on Tuesday night.

Most tour companies that take Chinese tourists to North Korea are based in Dandong, the main trading hub on the Chinese side of the border.

Dandong-based tour companies were told on Tuesday that, as of Wednesday, they were only permitted to run one-day tours to Sinuiju, the North Korean city opposite Dandong, which is a popular destination for Chinese tourists making day trips.

Longer trips to Pyongyang and other parts of North Korea were banned until further notice, the sources said. Many Chinese tour operators run three-day or longer tours inside the worlds most isolated country.

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