April 08, 2019

Operation Obstacle Course: How China Has Disrupted Negotiations with North Korea

By Ashley Feng

As the United States pushes North Korea toward denuclearization, it should focus more on the Chinese lifeline to this rogue regime. An ally and neighbor of North Korea, China is a key player in the United States’ two-track strategy to convince Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arsenal of weapons: maximum financial pressure and diplomatic outreach. The United States should call out China for its insidious enabling of North Korea and point to the Kim regime’s money trails through China.

The overwhelming volume of North Korean commerce flows through China. Conversely, trade with North Korea is an important source of revenue for many Chinese cities bordering North Korea. In a region that primarily relies on coal and manufacturing, both local firms and local government officials rely on North Korean trade to meet growth targets. Forty percent of trade in Dandong, a Chinese border city, comes from North Korea, which explains why so many Dandong-based companies have subsequently been sanctioned for dealing with North Korea in violation of UN and U.S. laws.

Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Company, for example, transacted over $500 million worth of business with North Korea before being sanctioned by the United States in September 2016. This kind of business is replicated throughout the provinces of Liaoning and neighboring Jilin. In so doing, numerous Chinese businesses are reportedly defying UN Security Council Resolutions.

Read the full article in The National Interest.

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