Washington puts more pressure on Beijing over Pyongyang

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Washington puts more pressure on Beijing over Pyongyang

The United States is aggressively pushing a new UN Security Council resolution that may include an oil embargo on North Korea, while also dangling the possibility of tougher unilateral measures that may target Chinese entities supporting the regime.

“We're going to push hard not just on North Korea, we're going to push hard on other countries who are not abiding by the resolutions and not abiding by the sanctions against North Korea,” Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told CBS’ "Face the Nation" Sunday. “And we're going to push hard against China,” reiterating that it is responsible for 90 percent of the trade that goes on with North Korea.

Haley warned that North Korea’s threat reached “a whole new level” with the test of what it claimed was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last week. Haley said the United States may limit trade with China if it does not do more to exert influence on Pyongyang, or fails to get on board with a sanctions resolution in the works in the Security Council.

The U.S.-drafted resolution is said to be pushing for an oil embargo as well as prohibiting North Korean laborers from working overseas, according to various diplomatic sources, measures which Beijing may object to.

When questioned if China had “let America down” over Pyongyang, Haley conceded that China has been following up on some things, like banning coal imports from the North.

“Now we have to say, OK, clearly, that's not enough,” Haley continued. “With the Security Council resolution that we're negotiating now, we don't expect a watered-down resolution.”

She indicated that such negotiations will take place in the coming days, and that the United States will be urging China and Russia, veto-wielding members of the council, to get on board with their proposed measures. Washington earlier shot down Beijing and Moscow’s joint initiative proposing a suspension of the U.S. and South Korean joint military drills in return for a freeze on North Korea’s weapons testing.

“It will be very telling as to whether China works with us, which we're hoping that they will – and we will know in the next couple days whether that's going to be the case,” said Haley, adding, or “whether Russia is going to stand with North Korea and… just oppose us for the sake of opposing us.”

Haley said in a Security Council emergency meeting last week countries that are enabling trade with North Korea may no longer be able to “continue their trade arrangements with the United States.”

When asked by CBS if China will be losing trade with the United States if it not does not do more on North Korea, Haley responded, “Ammunition comes with multiple options, and it's not always military,” elaborating it could include sanctions or trade measures.

She continued, “If there is a country that we don't think is looking out for our security…then yes. That is one of the ammunition options we have on the table.”

Washington appears to be insinuating that if China does not get on board with agreeing to the oil embargo, it may go ahead and implement so-called secondary sanctions on third-country entities doing business with the regime.

U.S. President Donald Trump held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, during which they “discussed the destabilizing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and the need to respond to North Korea’s major escalation involving the test of an ICBM,” according to the White House.

Trump said to Xi during public remarks during their bilateral talks, “Something has to be done” about Pyongyang, after his administration has been indicating frustration with Beijing not doing enough in the weeks leading up to the G-20 summit.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump in a joint statement Friday “decided to press for the early adoption of a new UNSC resolution with additional sanctions” to demonstrate to North Korea that “there are serious consequences for its destabilizing, provocative, and escalatory actions.”

In the three leaders’ first summit together, they emphasized the importance of China being proactive, and in their trilateral statement also called on the international community to “swiftly and fully implement all UNSC resolutions and to take measures to reduce economic relations” with North Korea.

“The ball is in their court,” Haley said referring to China in another interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “They’re either going to go along with us and the rest of the international community and say, ‘Yes, we think that what North Korea did was wrong,’ or they’re not.”

She said, “The president knows what all his options are,” not ruling out the option of a preemptive strike, adding Washington will respond “accordingly.”

“I think there will be a response if they don’t go along with that,” she added, on the new UN Security Council draft resolution. “The president has made it clear that he will start looking at trade relations with China.”

A Blue House official confirmed that the limiting of exports of petroleum and oil to the North, which are mainly provided by China and considered a lifeline for the regime, may be raised in the Security Council.

The JoongAng Ilbo reported Monday that a South Korean official in Hamburg said, “That issue is being discussed very seriously in the Security Council, and we will have to see how it is reflected in the UNSC resolution.”

Last month, Washington blacklisted Dalian Global Unity Shipping and two Chinese citizens for helping North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and accused the Bank of Dandong, based in northeastern China, of laundering money for Pyongyang. It was a part of a move to cut off funds for North Korea’s weapons program. In March, Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE was fined $1.19 billion for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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