China must prove its sincerityChina’s pressure on North Korea is mounting fast. Beijing announced Thursday that it ordered joint ventures between China and North Korea to shut down within the next 120 days. China took the step to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2375, which imposed the toughest-ever sanctions on North Korea to punish its persistent push for nuclear development.
As a result, joint ventures between the two countries must close their businesses by Jan. 9 next year. Over 100 North Korean restaurants in China will be hit first. China earlier notified banks around the border area that they had to stop financial dealings with North Korea. As suggested by U.S. Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Susan Thornton, China is increasingly putting pressure on Pyongyang to cause a problem for the North Korean economy.
China’s escalation of its pressure on the North seems to have been primarily caused by the Trump administration’s execution of a secondary boycott on any other companies doing business with North Korea. An assistant secretary of the treasury said that the U.S. government will target any business around the world dealing with North Korea. His comments mostly target China, which has been trying to find loopholes in the sanctions levied by the UN.
Another factor for Beijing’s mounting pressure on North Korea is China’s deepening concerns over the increasing call for nuclear armaments from its neighbors, including South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. China’s latest step could also reflect its anger against a North Korea relentlessly bent on making China lose face.
Some security analysts believe that China’s campaign to tighten its sanctions on North Korea could be aimed at creating an amicable atmosphere before U.S. President Donald Trump’s scheduled visit to Beijing for a summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in November. China also might have taken the even tougher action to help lessen the international community’s growing distrust in Beijing on the sanctions’ front. But we hope China’s decision reflects the urgency of the North Korean nuclear threat, not a practical need to pave the road for a successful summit in Beijing.
China must stop its myopic approach to the nuclear conundrum prioritizing its national interests even in the face of the imminent danger from North Korea. Instead, Beijing must behave prudently as a responsible leader of the world if it is really interested in how history will remember China.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 30, Page 30