March 23, 2017 12:57
China supplies North Korea with 500,000 tons of crude oil for free and sells it another 500,000 tons, a source said Thursday.
Beijing has refused to publish data since 2014, but the year before it sold 590,000 tons of crude oil to the North.
The oil comes from China's Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang Province and is pumped to North Korea via an underground pipeline passing through Dandong along the border between the two countries and into a refinery in Sinuiju. The gasoline produced there is used by the North for domestic consumption while the LPG is sold back to China.
China cannot afford to halt crude oil supply to North Korea because it does not want the regime to collapse, which could send huge numbers of North Koreans across the border and potentially deprive it of a buffer state.
It is also difficult to close a pipeline and reopen it again since paraffin and other debris clog up the tubes. The 1 million tons of crude the North receives from China, experts say, is probably the minimum the isolated country needs to survive.
But there are suspicions that China in fact supplies much more as cars have proliferated in the North. In the past, Russia has also supplied oil to North Korea, but now only some gasoline is exchanged along the border region.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com