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Chinese companies stop sending back N. Korean workers

Posted April. 03, 2018 07:33,   

Updated April. 03, 2018 07:33


Beijing appears to be easing international sanctions against North Korea after a secretive summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping, raising concerns over China’s possible dropping out of the concerted efforts to put pressure on the regime through rigorous sanctions led by the United States.

Some Chinese enterprises in Dandong, a city in northeastern Liaoning province bordering North Korea, stopped sending back North Korean workers to their home country, South Korea’s intelligence sources said on Monday.

UN Security Council Resolution 2375, which was passed in September last year, imposed a prohibition on issuing North Korean workers abroad with work permits. Resolution 2397, adopted in December that year, mandated to repatriate North Korean workers employed abroad within 24 months. In an effort to faithfully implement sanctions against the North, the Chinese government also sent out notices to repatriate North Korean workers to the regime.

It is reported that the Chinese authorities, however, have not taken any action regarding employing North Korean workers. Rather, a source quoted Chinese government officials as saying “refrain from any action that could upset North Korean people for the time being.”

South Korean government said it is identifying intelligence that the average daily traffic volume between Dandong and North Korea surged to 50 trucks, from 20 to 30 trucks earlier this year. The traffic in this region is one of the key indicators that show bilateral trade flows. More than 100 trucks a day would come and go before the international community strengthened sanctions against the North.

According to data released by China’s customs agency, North Korean exports to China amounted to 1.72 billion dollars, a 33 percent down from 2016. However, Beijing is likely to give some breathing space to its ally as Chinese President Xi expressed his willingness to expand mutual exchanges in a meeting with Kim.

In response to Beijing’s looming lax implementation, the Trump administration reportedly asked China to share data that could verify and demonstrate its implementation of sanctions.

Jin-Woo Shin niceshin@donga.com