The biggest frontier trade zone between China and Vietnam is the perfect place to gauge the business and social impact of the recent deadly violence against Chinese nationals in Vietnam.
The Beilun River bridge stretches 125 meters across the border between the two countries. People of either nationality use it to cross back and forth between China's Dongxing and Vietnam's Mong Cai to earn a living.
The former is one of China's most prosperous land ports with over 20,000 entries and exits daily. With Dongxing's trade with Vietnam growing at an average of 20 percent per year, the city has played a key role in consolidating China's position as Vietnam's largest trade partner.
How has all this been affected since two Chinese were killed and more than 100 injured in protests that have severely strained the two countries' relationship? A Xinhua reporter spent a day in Dongxing to find out.
As dawn brought at least a semblance of the usual commuter clamor to the bridge, Xinhua's reporter met Vietnamese Pham Thi Hoa and Tran Le Thuong, two cousins running a store in Dongxing. "Fewer and fewer visitors to Dongxing have impacted our earnings," they said.
Other traders remained bullish. "Our shop and warehouse are still in Mong Cai, and we haven't planned to quit," said Li Yi, a Chinese running a cellphone wholesale business in Mong Cai.
Five kilometers upstream from the bridge lies a cargo berth. It was filled with dozens of ships loaded with tapioca, and young Vietnamese workers were busy moving the cargo into trucks.
A neighboring seafood wharf engaged in imports of shrimp, crab and fish seemed to be doing brisk business too. A smell of frying fish and tapioca powder wafted from the site.
Wei Xiaolin, lobby manager of a trade settlement center in Dongxing, told the reporter that daily cross-border business had remained stable despite the recent violence.
However, the attacks have hit tourism.
Feng Xiaoxia, a clerk with the duty free shop in Dongxing, said she used to welcome hundreds of China visitors every day, but they have vanished.
At 1 p.m., most of the over 20 travel agencies in Dongxing's tourist distribution center were closed.
"Safety is the most crucial issue," travel agency salesman Wei Xingji said. One-day tours of Vietnam were suspended at the start of last week.
With tour applications also drastically down, staff in the empty application center just sat around.
The loss of Chinese tourists has led to heavy losses for Vietnamese traders, leaving some shopkeepers unable to afford the rent.
"Please buy some!" implored a Vietnamese woman trying to sell cigarettes and local medicinal oils to the scarce tourists passing by.
The bridge turned busy again as the daily border closure approached in the afternoon.
Returning from a trip to Hanoi, Chinese merchant Luo Lifang said that she did not feel unfriendliness when calling a taxi or eating in a restaurant there. "A taxi driver even wished for a proper solution to the disputes so as to preserve people's daily life," Luo said.
On the other hand, Cantonese Liu Weiping told how his family had been worried by his call on business partners in Mong Cai.
"My family kept urging me to come back quickly," he said. "I just told them to calm down as common Vietnamese also wish for peaceful times so they can earn money."
These times seem some way off. Though a rumor of an anti-China demonstration on Sunday didn't turn into reality, it further affected the border passes and many shops closed out of fear of being hit.