Thursday, June 29, 2017

China’s National Oil Company Suspends Sales to North Korea

Reuters reported on Wednesday that China’s state-controlled National Petroleum Corporation has suspended fuel sales to North Korea for an undetermined period of time. CNPC is the primary supplier of fuel to North Korea.
On the surface, it appears that China is using its ultimate leverage with Pyongyang. Threats to North Korea’s oil supply are regarded by some observers as the best way to tell when Beijing truly loses patience with its psychotic client state.
It also seems noteworthy that the Chinese move comes after President Trump’s public expressions of frustration with China regarding the North Korean crisis, and rumbles from the administration that new sanctions against China may be forthcoming.
The sanctions most immediately in prospect concern Chinese complicity in human trafficking. The U.S. State Department published a report on Tuesday labeling China one of the worst human trafficking nations in the world, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson citing China’s importation of forced North Korean labor as one of the most serious offenses.
This report has been widely interpreted as a sign of deteriorating U.S.-China relations, and perhaps even as focused retaliation for China’s failure to bring North Korea to heel, even though the report was surely under construction for a long time–and frankly, China’s human trafficking problems are so severe that willful blindness would be required to ignore them.
The Chinese government claims the decision to suspend North Korean oil sales is “commercial” in nature, not a punitive action against the Kim regime’s pursuit of nuclear missiles. To put it bluntly, the Chinese say they are afraid North Korea will not pay the bills for its oil shipments, due largely to the impact of international sanctions against the regime’s missile and nuclear programs. READ MORE