Chinese figures show trade is up with North Korea, but questions abound

Claudine Rigal
Juillet 18, 2017

The assertion by the official in President Moon Jae-in's government was a reversal of the contention by the previous government that most of the cash that flowed into the jointly run Kaesong project was diverted to North Korea's military.

Beijing was quick to pour cold water on the suggestion that the overall rise in trade suggested it was not complying with U.N. Security Council resolutions created to punish Pyongyang for its nuclear tests and missile launches.

In late June, Washington imposed secondary sanctions on two Chinese citizens and a shipping company for helping North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and accused a regional Chinese bank, the Bank of Dandong, of laundering money for Pyongyang.

"Mr. Speaker, last week as we celebrated our nation's birthday, news broke that North Korea successfully launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile".

"China customs have all along fully, accurately, conscientiously and strictly enforced relevant Security Council resolutions", Huang declares.

While preparations for fresh sanctions are moving forward, tangible new steps by China could prompt Washington to put the measures on hold, the US sources said.

But customs administration spokesman Huang Songping said Beijing was upholding the United Nations sanctions against the regime of Kim Jong-Un. Then on July 8, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met to discuss concerns on North Korea and the Chinese trade relations.

It's unlikely that will be the case, and the real question is likely how long the United States can throw sanctions at smaller Chinese companies before it starts to impact what is ultimately America's largest trading partner.

The decline follows China's decision in February to ban all imports of North Korean coal. "Trade related to DPRK people's livelihood, especially those that reflect humanitarianism should not be influenced by the sanctions", Huang said.

US officials have also warned that China could face USA trade and economic pressure - something Trump has held in abeyance since taking office in January - unless it does more to restrain its neighbor.

Xi has made no secret of his disdain for Kim and is clearly frustrated at North Korea's weapons testing and actions such as the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the leader's half-brother who had been protected by China.

China insisted Thursday it was upholding UN sanctions on North Korea despite a jump in its trade with the nuclear-armed nation that comes amid growing USA calls for Beijing to rein in its neighbour.

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