U.S. Accuses China of Seeking to Undo North Korea Sanctions
North Korean soldiers on the North Korean side of the border in the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone Paju, South Korea. (Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)

U.S. Accuses China of Seeking to Undo North Korea Sanctions

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A senior U.S. official accused China of violating United Nations sanctions against North Korea, actions that he said go against a global consensus and undermine efforts to get the isolated regime to give up its nuclear weapons.

“There is no excuse for Beijing’s failures,” Alex Wong, the State Department’s deputy special representative for North Korea, said at a conference Tuesday. “It has the resources to implement its UN sanctions obligations in its coastal waters. But, again, it chooses not to.”

Wong’s comments marked an acknowledgment that a central tenet of U.S. policy toward Pyongyang -- the strict enforcement of sanctions to pressure North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to join denuclearization talks -- has largely collapsed. While officials have in the past noted that China wasn’t adhering to the sanctions as closely as it once did, they’ve rarely been so blunt in calling out the country’s behavior.

But the U.S. relationship with Beijing has soured as President Donald Trump has sought to blame China for the scale of the Covid-19 pandemic, pressure it over the erosion of democratic freedoms in Hong Kong and criticize the government’s treatment of ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. After initially holding off to preserve trade negotiations, the U.S. has dropped its restraint and now announces new sanctions and other punishments against China on a near-daily basis

In his remarks, Wong not only accused China of failing to enforce sanctions but of trying to “revive trade links and revenue transfers to the North, thereby ensuring Chinese reach into the North’s economy.”

“They are seeking to undo the UN sanctions regime they themselves voted for in 2006, in 2009, in 2013, in 2016, and in 2017,” Wong told the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Wong also announced that the State Department was offering a new website for people to report sanctions evasions by North Korea under the Rewards for Justice program. Tipsters whose information pans out may get a reward of as much $5 million, he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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