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China stalls oil product exports to North Korea

Posted December. 28, 2017 08:47,   

Updated December. 28, 2017 08:59


China reportedly exported no oil products to North Korea in November. The move is interpreted as Beijing’s going beyond sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council in an effort to limit petroleum shipments to the reclusive country. Beijing has not officially confirmed its own sanctions against the North, but it has been placing (its own) sanctions on its isolated neighbor, along with the UNSC resolutions, the Chinese sources said.

China did not export gasoline, jet fuel, diesel or fuel oil, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing data from China’s General Administration of Customs. It was the second straight month Beijing exported “no” diesel or gasoline to Pyongyang. Chinese exports of jet fuel have been completely blocked to the North since February 2015.

“The Chinese government has been enforcing sanctions in many ways other than the UNSC resolutions,” the Chinese sources said. “China is responsibly joining the concerted effort of the international community to pressure North Korea with stricter sanctions.” China investigates businessmen doing trade with the North for any violation of domestic laws and arrests lawbreakers if found illegal while restricting China-North Korea trade by rigorously applying its customs laws near the border.

China’s suspension of oil product exports to North Korea could cripple the regime’s economy. In Pyongyang, oil prices almost tripled compared to earlier this year after the international community imposed new sanctions against the North and still prices double from previous level, diplomatic sources said.

Industry sources say China still supplies about 530,000 to 580,000 tons of crude oil a year to North Korea via an ageing pipeline, excepting the official customs data. The block of oil products does not mean a complete cut off of crude oil to the North by China. There are still allegations that Chinese ships are trading oil to North Korean vessels on the high seas.

China has not imported iron ore, coal, or lead from the North in November pursuant to the latest UNSC resolutions. Trade between North Korea and China has slowed to 388 million U.S. dollars this year, down 36.7 percent from 613 million dollars for the same period last year. North Korean exports to China plunged 61.8 percent year-on-year to 118 million dollars.

Wan-Jun Yun zeitung@donga.com · Yong Park parky@donga.com