Chinese Trade With North Korea Tanks As Sanctions Take Their Toll

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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China reported a substantial decrease in trade with North Korea on Friday, highlighting the impact of sanctions on the rogue state.

Bilateral trade between China and North Korea last year dropped 10.5 percent compared to the figure from the previous year, spokesman for the General Administration of Customs Huang Songping revealed at a press briefing Friday, according to the Associated Press.

While Chinese exports to North Korea increased in 2017 by 8.3 percent, imports slumped 33 percent from the year earlier, Market Watch reports.

The decrease was even more noticeable in December, with overall trade between the two countries coming in 50.6 percent lower than the figure from the previous year. In the final month of 2017, imports dropped 81.6 percent, while exports fell 23.4 percent.

In response to North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear weapons testing, such as the launches of three intercontinental ballistic missiles and the detonation of a staged thermonuclear bomb designed to level cities, the U.N. Security Council has imposed tough sanctions on the rogue regime.

China, which has traditionally served as an economic lifeline for the North, has started putting pressure on Pyongyang to curb its ballistic and nuclear ambitions. In addition to reducing trade, China has also severed business ties, restricted financial transactions, kicked out workers, and closed down companies. The Trump administration has praised China’s efforts but continues to assert that Beijing can still do more.

While China has rejected calls from past presidents to do more, Beijing is starting to go along with U.S. initiatives to put pressure on North Korea, even accepting U.S. demands for restrictions on oil exports to the North.

The Trump administration is “pleased that China is sharply reducing its trade with North Korea,” the White House said Friday in an official statement.

Relations between Pyongyang and Beijing are at a new low, so much so that the North Korean envoy to China refuses to come out of the embassy. “Beijing-Pyongyang relations are at their lowest point, so it’s a bad time to be involved in active exchanges,” a diplomatic source told the Chosun Ilbo, referring to Ambassador Ji Jae-ryong’s refusal to participate in formal events.

North Korea has repeatedly asserted that sanctions are killing its people while claiming that international diplomatic and economic pressure will never derail its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development programs, essentially telling the world that the regime will starve its people before abandoning its weapons of mass destruction.


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