China’s border with North Korea

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

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Chinese men take part in morning exercises

Chinese men take part in morning exercises on the Yalu river in the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China across from the city of Sinuiju, North Korea on May 23, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

North Korean and China flags for sale

Chinese vendors sell North Korea and China flags on the boardwalk next to the Yalu river in the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China across from the city of Sinuiju, North Korea on May 24, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Monument commemorating the Korean War

A Chinese man poses in front of a monument commemorating the Korean War on the Yalu river in the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China across from the city of Sinuiju, North Korea on May 24, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

A Chinese tourist takes pictures

A Chinese tourist takes pictures between “Friendship Bridge”, left, and “Broken Bridge”, right, as she looks across the Yalu river from the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China towards the city of Sinuiju, North Korea on May 23, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

A North Korean restaurant worker in China

A North Korean restaurant worker tries to attract customers in the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China across the Yalu River from the border city of Sinuiju, North Korea on May 23, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Chinese tourists view the river

Chinese tourists look at a North Korean fisherman as they ride in a boat on the Yalu river with North Korean territory on both sides north of the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China across from the city of Sinuiju, North Korea on May 23, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

A Chinese man looks towards Sinuiju, North Korea

A Chinese man stands in the rain between “Friendship Bridge”, left, and “Broken Bridge”, right, as he looks across the Yalu river from the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China towards the city of Sinuiju, North Korea on May 23, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

North Koreans ride a boat

North Koreans ride on a boat used as a local ferry as they cross the Yalu river north of the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China near Sinuiju, North Korea on May 23, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)Images)

Chinese tourists disembark from a boat

Chinese tourists disembark from a boat on the Yalu river near the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China across from the city of Sinuiju, North Korea on May 23, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

A North Korean watchtower

A North Korean soldiers watches from a tower on the Yalu river north of the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China near Sinuiju, North Korea on May 23, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Chinese tourists pass a watchtower

Chinese tourists look and take pictures of a North Korean soldier in a watchtower as they ride on a tourist boat on the Yalu river with North Korean territory on both sides, north of the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China near Sinuiju, North Korea on May 23, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Chinese men exercise on the river

The “Friendship Bridge” is seen in the background as Chinese men take part in morning exercises on the Yalu river in the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China across from the city of Sinuiju, North Korea on May 23, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

A razor-wired fence protects the border

A fence with razor wire is seen protecting the border on the Yalu river north of the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China across from the city of Sinuiju, North Korea on May 23, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

A North Korean border guard on patrol

A North Korean soldier guards on the Yalu river north of the border city of Sinuiju, North Korea across from Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China on May 24, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

North Korean fishermen at sunrise

North Korean fishermen are seen at sunrise on the Yalu river in the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China across from the city of Sinuiju, North Korea on May 24, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

North Korean farmers work along the river

North Korean farmers work on the Yalu river north of the border city of Sinuiju, North Korea across from Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China on May 23, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

North Korean soldiers ride the river

North Korean soldiers ride on a boat used as a local ferry as they cross the Yalu river north of the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China near Sinuiju, North Korea on May 23, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

North Korean buildings along the border

North Korean buildings and houses, one with the images of late leaders Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jung-Il father, are seen in a village north of the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China on May 24, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

A Chinese couple embrace

A Chinese couple embrace as they stand near the “Friendship Bridge”, left, and “Broken Bridge”, right, next to the Yalu river near the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China towards the city of Sinuiju, North Korea on May 24, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

View of the Friendship Bridge

Chinese men walk on the boardwalk near the “Friendship Bridge” in the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China across from the city of Sinuiju, North Korea on May 24, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

North Korean fishermen at sunrise

North Korean fishermen are seen at sunrise on the Yalu river in the border city of Dandong, Liaoning province, northern China across from the city of Sinuiju, North Korea on May 24, 2017 in Dandong, China. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

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