China must observe sanctions

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China must observe sanctions

The United Nations last week released a report by independent experts about North Korea’s violations of UN Security Council resolutions and said that China has been helping the North break the rules all along. In the report to the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee, China was said to have been involved in 21 out of 38 cases in which North Korea defied an international ban on trade of weapons and luxury goods.

For instance, the northeastern Chinese port of Dalian has been used as a transit hub for illicit arms-related transactions. North Korea had been transporting containers of illegal weapons and other material to Dalian and then smuggling them to other ships to mask illicit trade.

And for its part, China, a permanent member of the Security Council, has been neglectful in complying with the UN resolution that requires member countries to inspect North Korean cargo and destroy any items linked to the country’s missile and nuclear programs.

The Security Council issued Resolution 1718 after North Korea detonated a nuclear device on Oct. 9, 2006, and Resolution 1874 following the second test in 2009. Both prohibit UN members from trading in arms and luxury goods with North Korea and put restrictions on financial services that can be provided to North Korean officials.

China has long been suspected of breaching the international embargo. The vehicles capable of transporting and launching a long-range missile that were paraded in April in the North are suspected to have come from China. The panel report confirmed the suspicions. China’s lax oversight in local companies’ assistance in North Korea’s illicit arms trade and weapons program critically undermines international efforts to stop North Korea’s nuclear and missile campaign.

There is no hard proof that China has intentionally overlooked North Korea’s illegal activities in its territory. But it is no secret that Chinese bureaucrats and companies have kept up business deals with North Korea in some ways in spite of the embargo.

This needs to change. Beijing should be firm in upholding UN regulations if it hopes to restore its international credibility. China must ask itself why it has recently been drawing suspicion from the international community on many fronts. A change in course on the North could certainly help.
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