SEOUL – China allowed four North Korean ships to moor at its northeastern Tangshan port at a time when it allegedly restricted imports from North Korea owing to Pyongyang’s continued nuclear tests.
The four ships stopped at the major coal shipping port between Wednesday and Thursday this week, according to a report Friday in NK News, a Seoul-based portal that specializes in news from North Korea.
Three of the ships were moored on a wharf meant exclusively for unloading coal, while the fourth one was moored on another wharf meant to receive coal and other minerals, according to the report that was based on data of positional information from ship tracking site Marine Traffic.
Besides, two of the ships, Jin Hung 9 and Pu Hae, previously participated in activities that violated United Nations sanctions and their operations were managed by people whom a United Nations experts committee had repeatedly named for helping Pyongyang to dodge international law.
Coal imports from North Korea by China have been under scrutiny since November last year, when the UN had imposed new and tougher sanctions on Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile tests.
China announced in February it would halt coal imports from North Korea for the rest of the year keeping in mind the sanctions.
China had struggled to secure the so-called sustenance exception (which allows trade to ensure the livelihood of the North Korean people) included in the UN resolutions, which according to experts constitutes a free pass for Chinese companies to buy coal and other goods from North Korea.
Given the current tension in the Korean peninsula over continued weapons tests by the Kim Jong-un regime, the United States urged China to exert more pressure on its neighbor and said that if Beijing did not cooperate, it will be forced to consider other measures, including a military offensive.