China tightens crude oil supplies to North Korea in new sanctions
New limits in response to a UN Security Council resolution against Pyongyang’s latest missile launch
China’s Ministry of Commerce has announced new limits on critically important oil supplies to North Korea, as well as new restrictions on refined oil products, steel and other metals.
The caps take effect on Saturday and limit North Korea to 4 million barrels of crude oil for the 12 months from December 23, 2017.
The announcement is China’s execution of a UN Security Council resolution last month unanimously approving new punitive measures on North Korea for an intercontinental ballistic missile test on November 29.
As well as the restrictions on crude oil, the resolution prohibits nearly 90 per cent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year. In sanctions announced in September, China limited refined petroleum exports to North Korea to 2 million barrels.
Under the new measures, all Chinese firms exporting refined petroleum products to North Korea must submit documentation to customs authorities detailing that the shipments comply with the UN sanctions.
China accounts for almost all of its neighbour’s energy supplies and has been under pressure to show its commitment to United Nations sanctions after reports that Chinese-owned vessels improperly traded with North Korean ships.
The new measures from China also included total bans on exports of iron, steel and machinery and trucks, the ministry said.
The statement said China was banning all imports of North Korean food and agricultural products, minerals, machinery and ships.
Renmin University international relations professor Shi Yinhong said oil sanctions were the last resort for China and the chances were slim that they would force Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.
“China has almost exhausted all the major sanction measures. What is left is a complete and permanent ban on crude oil supply. However, even if China uses the last measure, there is little chance of success,” Shi said. “It would come at a high cost.”
The announcement comes after the Chinese foreign ministry promised on Friday to “deal seriously” with violators of United Nations sanctions on North Korea after a South Korean newspaper said Chinese-owned ships registered abroad regularly delivered oil.
“If it is confirmed through investigation there are violations of Security Council resolutions, China will deal seriously with them in accordance with laws and regulations,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
On December 29, South Korea said it inspected a Hong Kong-flagged vessel for allegedly transferring petroleum to a North Korean vessel in October. The ship was seized on November 24 at the port of Yeosu.
Beijing rejected the allegations.
Additional reporting by Wendy Wu