China bans export of arms, materials to Pyongyang
BEIJING: China has tightened restrictions on North Korea by issuing a long list of weapons-related technology and materials banned from export to its neighbour, reflecting Beijing’s desire to get Pyongyang to scrap its nuclear programmes and rejoin disarmament talks.
The list of forbidden items posted by the Chinese Commerce Ministry on its website yesterday includes those with both civilian and military applications in the nuclear, ballistic, chemical and biological fields. The notice said the list was aimed at boosting enforcement of UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea passed as early as 2006.
The announcement is a continuation of China’s new policy of putting slightly greater pressure on North Korea to coax it back to disarmament talks, said Li Mingjiang, China security expert at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.
China could have simply implemented the ban, but announcing it so publicly was a sign to the international community that Beijing is sincere in meeting its commitments, Mr Li said. He said it’s also a rebuke to Pyongyang.
‘‘The leaders in Pyongyang will hate this,’’ Mr Li said. Pyongyang likely will ‘‘swallow the bitter pill’’ and may respond with concessions, he said.
China, wary of undermining its isolated neighbour and generating instability on its northeastern border, has often argued against stricter sanctions on North Korea and has, at times, been accused of not enforcing them enthusiastically enough.
However, Beijing was angered by North Korea’s long-range rocket launch last December and its third nuclear test in February, leading it to agree to tightened sanctions in March that also promise further measures in the event of another launch or nuclear test.
Since coming to power in December 2011, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has repeatedly angered Beijing by refusing to heed its prodding to engage in economic reform and return to negotiations over its nuclear programme.
US officials have long pushed for tightened sanctions enforcement, with Secretary of State John Kerry, undersecretary of defence for policy James Miller, and chief North Korea envoy Glyn Davies visiting Beijing on lobbying missions in recent months.
Those efforts have borne some success, with Chinese customs agents tightening inspections on a range of items, including luxury goods that Mr Kim uses to shore up his support from the North Korean elite. In late 2011, Beijing forced the China Construction Bank to close accounts opened by the Korea Kwangson Banking Corp and the Golden Triangle Bank, to comply with previous UN sanctions.
China provides North Korea with a crucial economic lifeline, supplying almost all its fuel and more than 83% of its imports.