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North Korean coal ships enter China’s port

Posted March. 18, 2017 07:17,   

Updated March. 18, 2017 07:25


It has been reported that China allowed at least 10 North Korean coal vessels to enter its port ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to China. Analysts say that this could be expression‎ of China’s discontent to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea.

“On Thursday, at least 10 North Korean ships, including Sai Nal 3, Bu Un and Jin Hung, entered the port of Longkou in Shandong Province from morning to night,” said U.S. news outlet, the Voice of America, on Friday, citing live ship map data by MarineTraffic.

North Korean coal vessels usually use the port of Longkou when entering China. It has been told that these North Korean vessels were floating in the ocean 10 kilometers away from the Longkou port from late February to early March. As the Chinese commerce ministry said last month that Beijing would ban any coal imports from North Korea this year, it is highly likely that these coal carriers were denied to enter the port. VOA reported that the satellite image of Google Earth shows a pile of black objects, which look like coal, where these ships located.

China appears to have allowed North Korean coal vessels to enter the Chinese territory, while U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is planning to visit China on Saturday. Against the backdrop, analysts say that China’s decision is somewhat related to the deployment of THAAD system in South Korea. In other words, China has made it clear that Beijing will not support U.S. pressure on Pyongyang if it introduces the THAAD system to South Korea.

Sung-Ha Joo zsh75@donga.com · Seung-Heon Lee ddr@donga.com