Sat, Dec 30, 2017 - Page 1 News List

China rejects Trump’s charges on N Korea sanctions

AFP, BEIJING

China yesterday rejected accusations that it had helped Pyongyang skirt sanctions after US President Donald Trump claimed on Twitter that Beijing was turning a blind eye to oil transfers to North Korea.

Trump’s tweet was the latest salvo in his battle to persuade China to tighten the economic screws on Pyongyang over its missile and nuclear weapons programs, in a campaign that has seen him heap both praise and criticism on Beijing.

“Caught RED HANDED — very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea,” Trump said on Twitter on Thursday. “There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!”

The UN — at the urging of the US — has imposed a series of sanctions against North Korea aimed at getting it to halt its weapons development.

China has supported the moves, but critics claim it is not rigidly enforcing the sanctions, fearful that too much pressure will cause the unpredictable regime to collapse.

South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, citing government sources in Seoul, earlier this week reported that US satellites had spotted Chinese ships selling oil to North Korean vessels at sea dozens of times since October.

“The recent series of reports on this situation do not conform with the facts,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) said, adding that Beijing did not allow its “citizens or companies to engage in any activities that violate” UN resolutions.

China had looked into the report of a Chinese ship transferring oil to a North Korean vessel and found it to be inaccurate, Hua said.

“There is no record of the [Chinese] vessel visiting a Chinese port” since August, she said. “I think making pointless hype through the media is not conducive to enhancing mutual trust and cooperation.”

A defiant Pyongyang has said there is no possibility of rolling back its weapons programs, as they have been developed to defend against what it terms aggression by the US and its allies.

Washington has insisted that a resolution of the crisis on the Korean Peninsula depends on the North’s denuclearization.

The UN Security Council last week imposed new sanctions on Pyongyang further restricting oil supplies and ordering North Korean nationals working abroad to be sent back by the end of 2019.

It was not immediately clear what prompted Trump’s tweet, or if he was accusing China — the North’s main ally — of directly violating sanctions targeting Pyongyang.

A US Department of State official later said the US was aware that “certain vessels have engaged in UN-prohibited activities, including ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum and the transport of coal from North Korea.”

“We have evidence that some of the vessels engaged in these activities are owned by companies in several countries, including China,” the senior official said.

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