China dodges sanctions, buys North Korean coal

In the midst of global isolation owing to its crash nuclear program and off balance due to devastating floods which have killed hundreds and submerged over 30,000 homes, North Korea has earned untold economic bounty in record sales of coal to neighboring China in violation of UN-imposed economic sanctions.

Put into place in April, sanctions intended to prevail upon Pyongyang to reform itself and abandon its ballistic-missile program have floundered as Beijing has repeatedly stepped in to purchase large quantities of the hermit state’s coal reserves.

Although China agreed to ban imports in line with the UN embargo, and scaled back imports from March’s 2.345 million tons of coal to April’s purchase of 1.527 million tons, Beijing’s acquisitions of North Korean coal has risen steadily since May.

August coal totals to China topped 2.465 million tons.

Together with the increase of North Korean coal imports, China has increased its intake from Mongolia and Indonesia.  From Mongolia alone, imports have soared to a 50.1 percent increase over last year. Similarly, Indonesia’s exports to Beijing have increased 18 percent over the same time period.

As exports of coal have increased from Mongolia and Indonesia, Australia, a top coal-trading partner with China, has seen its sales of the mineral drop 3.6 percent from January.

Although China has expressed frustration with Pyongyang over its repeated ballistic-missile tests and has imposed its own sanctions on North Korea, Beijing’s upward trajectory in coal purchases clearly indicate its attitude toward Kim Jong-un’s mysterious kingdom is rooted in pursuing its goal of becoming the world’s top steel producer rather than exercising influence to reel in the nuclear ambitions of Mr. Kim.


[Daily Mail] [Photo courtesy Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images via NPR]