Beijing’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday lashed out at reports that Chinese vessels may be conducting cargo transfers at sea with North Korean ships, in breach of UN resolutions.
Speaking at a regular press conference in the Chinese capital, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying challenged journalists to come up with more concrete details.
“I would like to know whether the relevant media could specify which ship or ships were involved in the situation? Are they on the sanctions list of the United Nations Security Council? If not, what made them conclude that these ships violated the Security Council resolutions?” Hua said.
“Any solid evidence? Moreover, these media may think about whether their own country can be 100% sure that what should be done is done and not a single breach will happen?”
UN Resolution 2375 passed in September asks member states to prohibit their nationals or companies from “engaging in ship-to-ship transfers to or from DPRK-flagged vessels of any goods or items.”
Beijing’s remarks follow a report from South Korean media citing unnamed officials who claimed Chinese vessels had delivered oil to North Korea at sea 30 times in November.
The report claimed the illicit transfers started in September, following UN resolutions restricting oil exports to North Korea.
On December 19, Reuters also said the U.S. asked the UN Security Council (UNSC) to add ten ships to its blacklist, claiming they were “conducting illegal ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum products to North Korean vessels or illegally transporting North Korean coal to other countries for exports.”
The list of ten ships included the Lighthouse Winmore, a 16,500-ton oil tanker registered in Hong Kong and the Panama-flagged Billions No. 18, a 9,000-ton tanker last seen near Taiwan.
Both the U.S. Treasury Department and the UN have made similar claims in recent months, saying North Korea was transferring cargos at sea to avoid detection.
“[The UN Security Council] notes with great concern that the DPRK is illicitly exporting coal and other prohibited items through deceptive maritime practices and obtaining petroleum illegally through ship-to-ship transfers,” the latest UN resolution reads.
But neither organization mentioned China by name and the U.S. Treasury Department – which also released a photo of an illicit transfer – only identified the North Korean ship involved and declined to provide further details to NK News.
The NK Pro ship tracker has captured the positions of North Korean tankers near the Chinese coast in recent months, though most of the DPRK’s oil transporting fleet has disappeared from international tracking systems.
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Featured Image: Oil Spill in Dalian by [email protected] on 2010-07-22 10:04:07