February 21, 2024

Mixed evidence on Chinese implementation of N. Korea sanctions

Paraxoically, Chinese businesses may be primary beneficiaries of sanctions on N. Korea

Discussions on the future of the DPRK unavoidably must touch on sanctions. This just as inevitably leads to the question: “but are the Chinese implementing sanctions?” After all, when Chinese trade makes up approximately 70% of North Korea’s trade volume, China is the only country that truly matters in terms of economic influence.

On the ground, evidence seems mixed. An interesting anecdote from shippers recently is that China is holding up overseas cargo of non-essential consumer goods at Dalian for extensive checking, leaving some North Koreans to wonder if these goods will be able to reach Pyongyang. Dalian is crucial to international shipping for North Korea: shipment volumes will not be large enough to justify running a route from say, Malaysia, to Nampo so they are sent to Dalian, consolidated and sent on to Korea from there.