China sup­port for North Korea clam­p­down grow­ing: US

The Jakarta Post - - WORLD - Pa­tri­cia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom

China is mak­ing progress in en­forc­ing sanc­tions im­posed on North Korea, a United States State De­part­ment of­fi­cial said on Thurs­day, and urged skep­ti­cal mem­bers of Congress not to rush to en­act new ones be­fore giv­ing Bei­jing’s ef­forts a chance to take ef­fect.

“We are work­ing closely with China to ex­e­cute this strat­egy and are clear-eyed in view­ing the progress — grow­ing, if un­even — that China has made on this front,” State De­part­ment As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Su­san Thorn­ton told a Se­nate hear­ing just be­fore leav­ing for China with Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son.

“We do see Chi­nese pol­icy shift­ing,” she said, as mem­bers of the Se­nate Bank­ing Com­mit­tee ad­vo­cated for tougher ac­tion to clamp down on Py­ongyang’s nu­clear and mis­sile de­vel­op­ment.

Ten­sions have been ris­ing on the Korean Penin­sula as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ex­change war-like threats and in­sults.

On Thurs­day, South Korea said it ex­pects more provoca­tive acts by North Korea next month to co­in­cide with the found­ing of its com­mu­nist party.

Sev­eral com­mit­tee mem­bers want harsher mea­sures, in­clud­ing se­condary sanc­tions tar­get­ing Chi­nese banks and com­pa­nies do­ing busi­ness with North Korea, and mea­sures to bar oil im­ports.

Thorn­ton and the other wit­ness, Trea­sury De­part­ment Un­der Sec­re­tary Si­gal Man­delker, said Congress should not do any­thing that could in­ter­fere with ef­forts to find a diplo­matic so­lu­tion.

“When our hands are tied in dif­fer­ent ways, it keeps us from be­ing ag­ile in the way that you would want us to be ag­ile,” Man­delker said.

Trump or­dered new sanc­tions against North Korea last week, in­clud­ing on its ship­ping and trade net­works, show­ing he was giv­ing more time for eco­nomic pres­sures to ad­dress the cri­sis af­ter re­peated warn­ings about pos­si­ble mil­i­tary ac­tion.

“We are able and have the au­thor­ity to tar­get any com­pany that’s con­tin­u­ing to trade with North Korea in any in­dus­try,” Man­delker said, when asked about the prospect of cut­ting off Chi­nese oil ex­ports to North Korea.

Sev­eral com­mit­tee mem­bers noted that North Korea’s econ­omy has grown in re­cent months, and said China must do more.

“The con­sen­sus in Wash­ing­ton is that China is a part­ner in this is­sue. I do not think that that is the case,” Repub­li­can Se­na­tor Tom Cot­ton said.

China’s Com­merce Min­istry Thurs­day said that, fol­low­ing the lat­est UN sanc­tions passed on Sept. 12, North Korean firms in China and joint ven­tures in China and over­seas would be shut down by Jan­uary.

China says it will strictly and fully en­force UN. res­o­lu­tions against North Korea, but has also re­peat­edly called for more ef­forts to be made to get talks restarted and for there to be a diplo­matic so­lu­tion, warning war would bring dis­as­ter.

On Fri­day, the of­fi­cial China Daily said in an ed­i­to­rial the lat­est sanc­tions needed time be­fore they would be­gin to bite.

“But to en­sure that the worstcase out­come does not ma­te­ri­al­ize, while fur­ther co­or­di­nat­ing their stances on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the UN sanc­tions to make sure they work, Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton also need to dis­cuss what else they can do to re­solve the penin­sula cri­sis peace­fully,” it said.

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