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China just ordered all North Korean businesses in the country to close

China
has long been North Korea’s main ally.
KCNA via REUTERS

BEIJING — China on Thursday ordered North Korean-owned businesses
to close, cutting foreign revenue for the isolated North under UN
sanctions imposed over its nuclear and missile programs.

China is North Korea’s main trading partner, making Beijing’s
cooperation essential to the success of sanctions aimed at
stopping the North’s pursuit of weapons technology. China, long
North Korea’s diplomatic protector, has gone along with the
latest penalties out of growing frustration with leader Kim Jong
Un’s government.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, North Korean businesses
and ventures with Chinese partners must close within 120 days of
September 11, when the UN Security Council’s approved the latest
sanctions. That would be early January.

North Korean companies operate restaurants and other ventures in
China, helping to provide the North with foreign currency. North
Korean laborers work in Chinese factories and other businesses.

Also Thursday, China’s foreign ministry appealed for dialogue to
defuse the increasingly acrimonious dispute between US President
Donald Trump’s government and North Korea.

“The Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is related to regional peace
and stability,” said Lu Kang, a ministry spokesman. “Breaking the
deadlock requires all relevant parties to show their sincerity.”

China, one of five permanent Security Council members with veto
power, supports the latest sanctions but doesn’t want to push
North Korea too hard for fear that Kim’s government might
collapse.

Chinese leaders argue against doing anything that might hurt
ordinary North Koreans. They agreed to the latest sanctions after
the United States toned down a proposal for a total ban on oil
exports to the North.

Chinese officials complain that their country bears the cost of
enforcing sanctions, which they say have hurt businesses in its
northeast that trade with the North.

The latest round of UN sanctions bars member countries from
operating joint ventures with North Korea — most of which are in
China.

They also ban sales of natural gas to North Korea and purchases
of the North’s textile exports, another key revenue source. They
order other nations to limit fuel supplies to the North.

China, which provides the bulk of North Korea’s energy supplies,
announced Saturday it would cut off gas and limit shipments of
refined petroleum products, effective January 1. It made no
mention of crude oil, which makes up the bulk of Chinese energy
supplies to North Korea and is not covered by the UN sanctions.

China also has banned imports of North Korean coal, iron and lead
ore, and seafood since early September.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Commerce defended its recent imports
of North Korean coal, saying they were permitted by UN sanctions.

A ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, said imports reported in August
trade data were allowed by a “grace period” for goods that
arrived before the UN ban took effect.

The imports are “in line with the [UN] resolution,” Gao said.

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