China’s Ministry of Commerce (MofCom) announced yesterday that it has broken ground on two economic development zones in North Korea, the Financial Times reported. The zones are to be “government-led, enterprise-based and market-oriented,” according to the MofCom statement. One economic zone will be located on the undeveloped islands of Hwanggumpyong and Wihwa, the other in the North Korean border city of Rajin-Sonbong (Rason). Projects are to include rebuilding a road that connects Rason to China, a cement factory, electricity infrastructure and port modernization. The Rason Economic and Trade Zone includes an area that North Korea designated as an investment zone in the 1990s but never attracted any serious investment. South Korea already runs a small investment zone in Kaesong. There have been numerous attempts by Chinese entrepreneurs and officials to launch cross-border economic initiatives in the past, but this is the first time the Chinese central government has backed such a program.