China closes North Korea business
The measure follows the UN sanctions voted in September
7 October, 2017
China ordered last week North Korean-owned businesses in the country to close, following the UN sanctions imposed over its nuclear and missile programmes, news wires reported. North Korean businesses and ventures with Chinese partners must close within 120 days of the UN Security Council's 11 September approval of the latest round of sanctions, which falls in early January. North Korean companies operate restaurants and other ventures in China, helping to provide the North with foreign currency. North Korean labourers work in Chinese factories and other businesses.
China is North Korea's main trading partner, making Beijing's cooperation essential to the success of sanctions aimed at stopping the North's pursuit of weapons technology. China, long North Korea's diplomatic protector, has gone along with the latest penalties out of growing frustration with leader Kim Jong Un's government.
One of five permanent Security Council members with veto power, China supports the latest sanctions but doesn't want to push North Korea too hard for fear Kim's government might collapse. Chinese leaders argue against doing anything that might hurt ordinary North Koreans. They agreed to the latest sanctions after the US toned down a proposal for a total ban on oil exports to the North. Chinese officials complain their country bears the cost of enforcing sanctions, which have hurt businesses in its northeast that trade with North Korea.
The latest round of UN sanctions bans countries from operating joint ventures with North Korea, most of which are in China. They also ban sales of natural gas to North Korea and purchases of the North's textile exports, another key revenue source. They order other nations to limit fuel supplies to the North.
China, which provides the bulk of North Korea's energy supplies, announced it would cut off gas and limit shipments of refined petroleum products, effective 1 January. It made no mention of crude oil, which makes up the bulk of Chinese energy supplies to North Korea and is not covered by the UN sanctions. China also has banned imports of North Korean coal, iron and lead ore, and seafood since early September.
Last week, China's foreign ministry appealed for dialogue to defuse the increasingly acrimonious dispute between US President Donald Trump's government and North Korea. “The Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is related to regional peace and stability,” ministry spokesman Lu Kang said. “Breaking the deadlock requires all relevant parties to show their sincerity.”
But while the UN, China and the US are squeezing on North Korea, Russia is giving the rogue state a cyber lifeline. Russian state-owned company TransTeleCom has provided a new internet connection to Kim Jong Un's regime. The move strengthens North Korea's cybersecurity capabilities at a time of heightened tensions with the US, and also reduces its reliance on China. Previously, North Korean internet traffic was funnelled through one sole link, provided by China.