China Tightens N Korea Trade Limits Under UN Sanctions

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Beijing: China on Friday tightened limits on critically important energy supplies to North Korea and stepped up other trade restrictions under intensified UN nuclear sanctions.

Beijing said it will limit exports of crude oil and refined petroleum to the North. Previous curbs didn’t apply to crude oil, which makes up the bulk of China’s energy exports to the North.

China accounts for nearly all of Pyongyang’s energy supplies and trade, making its enforcement key to sanctions aimed at discouraging leader Kim Jong Un from pursuing nuclear and missile technology. The Security Council tightened sanctions on the North following its ballistic missile test on November 29.

China has steadily increased economic pressure on Pyongyang while calling for dialogue to defuse the increasingly acrimonious dispute with US President Donald Trump’s government. On Friday, a foreign ministry spokesman applauded news of possible talks between the North and South Korea’s government. “We welcome the recent positive turn of events in the peninsular situation,” said spokesman Geng Shuang at a regular briefing held before the latest trade curbs were announced.

Analysts see North Korea’s need for Chinese oil as the most powerful economic leverage against Pyongyang. But Chinese leaders have warned against taking drastic measures that might destabilize Kim’s government or send a wave of refugees fleeing into China. Chinese leaders have resisted previous US demands for an outright oil embargo but went along with the latest limits.

Under the new restrictions, Chinese companies will be allowed to export no more than 4 million barrels of oil and 500,000 barrels of refined petroleum products per year. They are barred from supplying the North’s military or weapons programs. The new measures also ban sales of steel, industrial machinery and vehicles. The Commerce Ministry said imports of North Korean food, machinery and some other goods will be banned.

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