China imposes limit on oil supply to NKorea
Beijing — China announced yesterday that it will limit energy supplies to North Korea and stop buying its textiles under UN sanctions imposed over its nuclear and missile development, further reducing support from Pyongyang’s last ally.
Exports of refined petroleum to the North will be limited to 2 million barrels per year, effective Jan. 1, the Commerce Ministry said. Sales of liquefied natural gas are banned outright.
North Korea depends on China for almost all its oil and gas but estimates of its consumption are low, leaving it unclear how Beijing’s new limit will affect them. The restrictions announced yesterday do not apply to crude oil, which makes up the biggest share of energy exports to the North.
China will also ban textile imports from the North, the ministry said. Textiles are believed to be the North’s biggest source of foreign revenue following rounds of UN sanctions under which Beijing cut off purchases of coal, iron ore, seafood and other goods.
China accounts for some 90 percent of the North’s trade, making its cooperation critical to efforts to derail Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development.
Chinese leaders were long the North’s diplomatic protectors but express increasing frustration with the government of Kim Jong Un. They support the latest UN Security Council sanctions but are reluctant to push Pyongyang too hard for fear Kim’s government might collapse. They also argue against doing anything that might hurt ordinary North Koreans.
Chinese officials complain their country bears the cost of enforcing sanctions, which have hurt businesses in its northeast that trade with the North.
The UN Security Council voted Sept. 11 to limit fuel supplies and ban the North’s textile exports. China, one of five permanent council members with power to veto UN action, agreed to the measure after the United States toned down a proposal for a complete oil embargo.
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