mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
North Korea Fallout
China Turns Back Norks’ Coal Cargoes

China has sent coal-filled North Korean ships back from whence they came, reports Reuters:

A fleet of North Korean cargo ships is heading home to the port of Nampo, the majority of it fully laden, after China ordered its trading companies to return coal from the isolated country, shipping data shows.

Following repeated missile tests that drew international criticism, China banned all imports of North Korean coal on Feb. 26, cutting off the country’s most important export product.

To curb coal traffic between the two countries, China’s customs department issued an official order on April 7 telling trading companies to return their North Korean coal cargoes, said three trading sources with direct knowledge of the order.

We already knew that China was suspending its coal imports from North Korea, but timing is everything: the April 7 order to turn back the ships came just as Xi Jinping and Donald Trump were meeting at Mar-a-Lago. This certainly looks like a goodwill gesture to Trump, who had repeatedly demanded that the Chinese use their considerable economic clout to get tougher on Pyongyang. As an added bonus, China had already increased coal imports from the U.S. to make up for the decrease in North Korean imports.

But even this move remains firmly in the realm of the symbolic. As with trade, Beijing may be calculating that it can get away with a few low-cost, high-visibility moves to defuse tensions with the United States. With the Trump Administration starting to execute more forcefully on its promised agenda in international relations, something tells us they won’t get away with half-measures.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Unelected Leader

    No way. Theyve been skirting sanctions to help the Kims for many years. They pretend to comply and then just double food aid or something else to NK

  • D4x

    China acknowledged there is no more need to show POTUS the back door of AF1, as happened to O44 summer2016, by combining the sudden enforcement of nomorecoal from NorK with “…a tough editorial in the Global Times, an international newspaper owned by the Chinese Communist Party, warned that China’s government has a “bottom line” and that if “the bottom line is touched, China will employ all means available including the military means to strike back.”

    The editorial went a step further, telling North Korea that it won’t wait for the U.S. to do the dirty work, but “will launch attacks
    to (North Korea’s) nuclear facilities on its own.”

    Since February, China has been curbing its trade with North Korea, and in recent days even turned away a fleet of North Korean merchant ships filled with coal, the impoverished nation’s No. 1 export. So things are about to get ugly in North Korea’s already-strapped economy.

    Here in the U.S., we’ve been dealing with North Korea’s provocations since the Korean War in the 1950s. Most Americans don’t realize
    it, but that war never officially ended. There’s only a truce. …

    Hopes of getting China to help out with North Korea hit bottom last year, after China expressed open contempt for President Obama, even humiliating the president during last summer’s G-20 economic summit by refusing to roll out a red carpet for him as it had for the other leaders and forcing Obama and National Security Advisor Susan Rice to deplane from the rear of Air Force One. This only emboldened North Korea’s Kim. …”

  • FriendlyGoat

    We should probably start from the premise that there is no reason for Kim Jong Un to exist as a national leader in his present mindset. He is not benefitting his people, he is not benefitting China and he is not benefitting anything else. So, it probably was not unhelpful that a recent list of circulated “options” openly includes assassinating him.

  • Angel Martin

    To find out how real this is, see if China is still trying to block an area missile defence that targets NKorea.

    If they still are, their “concern” is fake.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Much as I am loathe to offer any support to the Chicoms, their objection to THAAD is not entirely irrational. The missile defense aspect isn’t all that big a deal to them (they don’t object to the Aegis systems already in place), but the X-band radar that supports it (and which can peer deep into China, thus undermining their own internal secrecy) is. I am not tremendously sympathetic about this, but their arguments are not as irrational or hypocritical as they might sound at first.

  • f1b0nacc1

    If or when the Chinese stop food shipments and other life-sustaining aid to the Norks, I will take this seriously. Until then, more theater than anything else.

    • D4x

      There is a timeline. April 15 is NorK’s founder Kim Il-Sung’s birthday. VP Pence and his family arrive in Seoul, SoK, for Easter Sunday, April 16, then on to Japan on April 18, then ASEAN in Jakarta, then Australia and Hawaii.

      China always values stability. This is serious, in what Kim Jong-Un says.

      Living in real time history.

  • The chinese will play trump like a fiddle .

    • ——————————

      No…they will do what they are told…watch….

      • odds are he promised them something. They will do things that don’t cost them much to get an advantage over the US, handed to them by the president.


        • ——————————

          No, they will do what they are told….but of course they will get a ‘little’ something…they do have a country to run.

          Now are you telling me with a straight face that I should get news about the Trump administration from Vox and the NY Times?…I certainly hope you were just joking….

          • since you are one of those alternate reality people



            regarding what china will do, since you create your own reality, they will do whatever you want to think trump told them to do. Can’t help you there.

          • ——————————

            I am aware of the content if the articles you provided…it is old news, and it has nothing to do with my original comment.

            China will do what it is told…watch….it is not ‘my’ reality, nor is it ‘alternative’ reality…it is just reality…read it and understand it….

          • old news from today and yesterday. right. And what reason do you have to think china will just do what they are told? Especially when it seems the one changing his position on things is trump.

          • ——————————

            Old meaning you provided news that is already out.

            It doesn’t matter Trump, or another dem or rep president who projects strength (Obama did not). China is not as strong as many pundits say they are (just as Russia was made out to be before the 80’s, and Japan was in the 80’s). China needs us a lot more than we need them. We are negotiating from a position of extreme power.
            My original comment was not from a right or left perspective, it was from a human nature perspective….

          • Just sounds like you are gullible believing the whole strong man b.s. from trump. I doubt there is a world leader that doesn’t realize he’s clueless and fundamentally dishonest. Lying is how he lived, it’s his nature. He can’t project strength beyond this reality. Russia knows him, China knows him. At best he can get them to do things by conceding. E.g. Not declaring them manipulators and letting them have their way when it comes to trade.

            It’s so silly people say Obama didn’t project strength. I guess being respectable is too tame. You need to be a barbarian like trump

          • ——————————

            You have now resorted to typical overly- emotional left-wing diatribe…so you are commenting from a position of weakness.
            My original comment was neither a right nor a left comment. It was a comment based solely on human nature….

          • Overly emotional? Maybe you are being hypersensitive? I was not saying it to insult trump. These are matter of fact things. That is who he is. He conducted business in a dishonest fashion and has demonstrated he is ignorant in many things. Any world leader listening to him and watching knows this.

            I am not left wing and my comment was also about human nature. Some people lack the ability to perceive nuances and instead put their trust in belligerent characters while calling more measured intelligent people weak. Trump appeals to those people who don’t bother thinking harder. To you he must be projecting strength, what else could that person shouting during his campaign possibly be doing

            Obama gives clear reasons why he did what he did. He gave detailed reasons about Syria. You can’t hope to get anything like that from trump.

          • ——————————

            There is no “hypersensitive”, but unfortunately you just keep sliding off of the rails to the left, and I have been calling you on it because I find it puerile and unproductive to engage in that type of conversation.

            Anyway, here is the original comment; No, they [China] will do what they are told…watch….

            And all the Trump-bashing and Obama-praising you and the left can muster won’t change that…fact….

          • who praised obama? you would think a president that is intelligent would be the norm. Giving detailed reasons for actions the norm. Nothing special about that just because the current one lacks it.

      • D4x

        POTUS agreed to NOT label China a currency manipulator today. President Xi must have promised one-crazy-head-on-a-pike for that.

        Most cryptic WH statement so far: “April 12, 2017 Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Call with President Xi Jinping of China President Donald J. Trump spoke last night with President Xi Jinping of China to follow up after President Xi’s visit to Mar-a-Lago. It was a very productive call.”

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service