On February 18, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced the suspension of coal imports for the remainder of this year. In a daily press briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said: “According to our statistics, China has already approached the upper limits of coal imports from North Korea. So because of this, we have stopped imports of coal from North Korea with a responsible attitude.” Echoing his comment was the Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng, who explained that China’s coal import from North Korea by mid- February was close to the quota stipulated by UN Security Council Resolution 2321.
While the world has welcomed this decision, it remains unclear whether China acted to fulfill its UN obligations or unilaterally to punish North Korea outside the scope of the UN sanctions. Beijing’s official explanation suggests the former. However, the real customs data points to a different story.
This article was originally published by 38 North on April 5, 2017. Read the full article here.