Blue Marble - October 2006

Not Exactly the Great Wall, but China Building a Fence along North Korean Border

| Mon Oct. 16, 2006 3:47 PM PDT

China has hastily erected new fences along its border with North Korea, the Yomiuri Shinbun reports today. The project was approved back in 2003, but construction seems to have picked up in the wake of North Korea's now-confirmed nuclear test with about 1,600 feet of fencing built in the past week. Made of 8 to 15 feet tall concrete barriers connected by barbed wire, the fence runs mainly along the banks of the 100-foot wide Yalu River, fertile land for local farmers. The two countries share an 880-mile border, a vital trade route for North Korea, which gets 90 percent of its oil from China.

Fencing seems to be all the rage, real or virtual. The House recently approved the construction of a fence along the Mexican border yet now Congress seems to favor a high-tech "virtual" fence for which Boeing will be paid $67 million to "build" out of the total $1.2 billion ear-marked for the project.

In other barrier news, last month Saudi Arabia approved $12 billion to build a fence along its 560-mile border with Iraq to block out terrorists and protect resources. And to keep out illegal immigrants the United Arab Emirates is building a wall along its border with Oman.

--Jen Phillips