Kim Jong-un's 2nd China Trip Sparks Fears of Weakening Sanctions

  • By Kim Myong-song

    May 09, 2018 12:41

    North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un's second China visit less than two months  on Monday and Tuesday is raising concerns that Beijing could fatally weaken international sanctions that have forced the regime to the negotiating table.

    UN Security Council resolutions severely limit oil exports to North Korea as well as joint ventures with the North and were effective only thanks to China's cooperation under U.S. pressure.

    Now there are concerns that Xi could open backdoor trade channels with North Korea for fear of being sidelined in denuclearization talks.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (left) holds talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning Province on Tuesday. /Xinhua-Yonhap

    For now, there have been no reports that Xi made any pledges or comments to Kim signaling a weakening of sanctions, but there is a possibility that China will allow some resumption of trade to boost its influence over the North.

    "Even if Chinese authorities merely hint that smuggling across its border with North Korea will be overlooked, bilateral trade will immediately recover," a diplomatic source said. "If that happens, it will be difficult to get North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program even if it agrees to talks."

    Unscrupulous Chinese businesses could take the second meeting of the two leaders as a signal tacitly allowing backdoor trade with the North.

    It falls to President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to try and keep Chinese Prime Minister Le Keqiang on board with the sanctions when the three meet in Tokyo on Wednesday.

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