Cut oil suppliesNorth Korean leader Kim Jong-un is racing in full force towards his goal of earning international recognition as the leader of a nuclear weapons state. The North has come to such an unruly state largely because of China’s indulgence. The country maintained a loophole in the international community’s sanctions against North Korea. As a result, North Korea could keep its economy intact and was able to grow its cherished weapons program regardless of years of multifaceted international sanctions.
Xinhua News Agency claimed that there was no magic wand in China to put an end to North Korea’s nuclear development. But China has its hand on the 30-kilometer (19-mile) pipeline from its border city Dandong that carries more than 90 percent of the North’s oil needs. If Beijing is really serious about stopping North Korea nuclear campaign, it must turn the pipes off.
In its editorial following the North’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3, the Global Times, run by the China’s Communist Party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily, said that more stringent UN Security Council sanctions were “inevitable,” saying that China would approve of cutting off its oil supplies to North Korea or shutting down the border. During this year’s annual secretive summer resort conference in Beidaihe, Chinese political elites are said to have discussed the option of shutting off the oil pipeline valve.
The Global Times editorial, which warned of contamination in its northeast regions from North Korea’s repeated nuclear tests, was removed from the internet on Monday. That suggests that Beijing officials may not fully agree with the view. In a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin visiting China for a summit conference among BRICS — referring to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to “appropriately deal” with North Korean nuclear problem. We hope the “appropriate” actions mean effective measures like cutting oil supplies to the maverick state.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 5, Page 30