China puts more pressure on North Korea cutting off fuel supply

Telegraph:
China has turned off the tap on crucial goods for North Korea in a bid to pile on economic pressure as South and North Korean leaders prepare for an unprecedented diplomatic summit this April, and hopes for May talks between the US the isolated country mount.

The leaders of North and South Korea are to meet on April 27 for the first time in more than a decade, the two countries announced on Thursday after preliminary talks between senior officials.

An analysis of Chinese customs data from Aberdeen Standard Investments has revealed that China’s exports of refined petroleum to North Korea have collapsed in the last five months, to as little as 3.7 per cent on the previous year.

Other products have also been hit. North Korean steel imports from China have fallen dramatically, along with car imports. Economists believe that the data may explain the recent dramatic shifts in North Korean policy.

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un provoked widespread international attention this week with a trip to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. This followed the country's attendance at the Winter Olympics, and was another highly unusual step for closed-off state, known for its efforts to proliferate nuclear weapons an oppressive regime.

Alex Wolf, a senior economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments told The Daily Telegraph that the data suggested a blocking of the flow of exports into North Korea from China was a case of “using pressure to bring Kim closer to the [Chinese political] fold”.

The economic move will have considerably strengthened China’s position as powerbroker as talks between South and North Korea and the US move forward.

Mr Wolf said that, if petroleum exports were to average the level of recent months over an entire year, it would reach 3,393 tonnes. That is just 3.7 per cent of the amount exported last year from China to its neighbour.
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China does not want North Korea to have nukes either.  It has already been testing its own missile defense system in case the Norks attacked.  It may have some other issues it wants to be sure of in negotiations.  It would still like to keep North Korea as a buffer state which would not be a deal killer for the US as long as it is denuclearized.

With the restrictions on fuel, it makes you wonder if the train used by the North leaders for his visit to China will have to be refueled to get home.

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