Did Trump Convince China To Act With US Strikes?
China’s customs department has issued an official order telling trading companies to return their North Korean coal cargoes, said a trading source at Dandong Chengtai Trade Co, the biggest buyer of coal from the isolated country.
Following repeated missile tests that drew international criticism, China banned all imports of North Korean coal on Feb 26 – cutting off the country’s most important export product.
Shipping data on Thomson Reuters Eikon, a financial information and analytics platform, shows a dozen cargo ships on their way to North Korea’s main west coast port of Nampo, almost all carrying cargoes from China.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping were discussing North Korea at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort on April 7 when the Syrian strikes took place. Was this the plan all along?
The Trump administration has been pressuring China to do more to rein in North Korea, which sends the vast majority of its exports to its giant neighbor across the Yellow Sea.
But U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said last week’s U.S. military strike against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons was a warning to other countries, including North Korea, that “a response is likely” if they pose a danger.
A source at Dandong Chengtai, one of China’s biggest buyers of North Korean coal, said the company had 600,000 tonnes of North Korean coal sitting at various ports, and a total of 2 million tonnes was stranded at Chinese ports.
Eikon data shows that most of these ships have recently left Chinese coal ports, including Weihai and Peng Lai, returning to North Korea full or mostly filled with cargo.
Last month, Reuters reported that Malaysia briefly prevented a North Korean ship carrying coal from China from entering its port in Penang because of a suspected breach in sanctions. The ship was eventually allowed to unload its 6,300 metric tonnes of anthracite coal.
North Korea is a significant supplier of coal to China, especially of the type used for steel making, known as coking coal.