President Trump’s plan to curtail Chinese trade with North Korea is not exactly going as planned, Reuters reports:
Chinese customs spokesman Huang Songping told a briefing on China’s overall trade figures that total trade with North Korea expanded by 10.5 percent to $2.55 billion in the first six months of the year.
While China’s imports from North Korea dropped 13.2 percent to $880 million in the period from January to June, exports to North Korea rose 29.1 percent to $1.67 billion, he said.
It looks like those first-quarter numbers were no fluke: bilateral trade continues to climb despite Trump’s urgings to get tough on North Korea. The trade trends here are not illegal, since the growth in exports has been fueled by goods that are not subject to UN sanctions (as the Chinese have been quick to point out). But we suspect those niceties are not going to sit well with President Trump, who expected Beijing to do more than the bare minimum against Pyongyang.
The President has already indicated that his patience with China is up, and he recently levied secondary sanctions on a Chinese bank in an sign of displeasure with China’s efforts in cracking down on trade. As Beijing refuses to budge and Trump moves ever-higher up the escalation ladder, expect harsher economic measures to make Pyongyang feel the pain.