September 27, 2023

N.Korea sanctions: Can China be trusted?

Beijing holds up its end of the deal for now, but wait for North Korea's May Congress

Until the moment news broke that the United Nations Security Council unanimously agreed to pass new harsh sanctions against North Korea, it was reasonable to brace for failure. All signs indicated that China was going to veto it. After all, China had told Secretary of State John Kerry that it was not willing to take steps that risked destabilizing the North Korean regime as recently as January – after North Korea had conducted its fourth nuclear test.

Possible reasons for China’s sudden 180-degree turn are numerous. China could have genuinely felt threatened by South Korea’s decision to deploy the THAAD system or China could have been responding to the US’s sanctions against North Korea that could seriously affect Chinese banks. Or maybe the rocket launch was the straw that broke the camel’s back, especially considering that China was already annoyed with the nuclear test, which it had not been informed of ahead of time.