Speculation over China’s import ban on North Korea coal unfounded

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/2/20 0:03:39

The Chinese Commerce Ministry and General Administration of Customs announced Saturday that China would suspend all imports of coal from North Korea starting February 19 until the end of 2017 to implement UN Resolution 2321. Last month, China released a new list of items banned for export to North Korea and the decree is unprecedented. 

About 40 percent of North Korea's foreign currency is said to be earned from coal exports to China. Therefore, China's latest decision is considered very powerful. Coming after the death of Kim Jong-nam, some Western analysts hold it is "a response to the assassination incident." Scholars interviewed by the Global Times all agreed that the speculation is ludicrous. For one thing, there is still no conclusion about who is responsible for Kim's death. For another, Kim Jong-nam as a "political card" of Beijing doesn't conform to the logic of contemporary Chinese diplomacy.   

China's decision to cease coal imports from North Korea demonstrates that the international community has moved closer in sanctioning Pyongyang, which will find it much more difficult to break sanctions by creating confrontations among big powers. The international community will never allow North Korea to possess nuclear weapons. Pyongyang should be conscious of this reality.

Pyongyang so far has displayed a confrontational stance that it would not abandon its nuclear weapons in any eventuality. The sharp confrontation will last and all parties involved will suffer losses. Obviously, North Korea will suffer the most.

Its nuclear weapon program undoubtedly impairs North Korea's national security. It has made the North the most unsafe country in the world. Strategists tend to believe that with the advancement of North Korea's nuclear and missile technology, a military clash between the US, South Korea and the North will eventually break out. The possession of nuclear weapons is more likely to bring conflict to North Korea rather than help it avoid war.

Even if North Korea is able to produce nuclear weapons that can be used for actual combat, it will be unlikely to form a deterrent. All the great powers do not believe North Korea dare launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike, as it cannot afford the subsequent devastating retaliation. 

International society won't yield to its rudimentary nuclear missile technology, which puts Pyongyang at a disadvantage in confronting the UN Security Council resolutions.  

When two countries have a huge gap in the strength of conventional forces, the weaker side is unable to deter the other by developing nuclear weapons. Some countries, including Ukraine and Kazakhstan, abandoned their nuclear weapon ambitions after the disintegration of the former Soviet Union because they realized nuclear weapons are of no use to them.

If the current confrontation drags on, North Korea's isolation may last for decades, which could become the source of a variety of political risks. Pyongyang needs to think carefully about whether nuclearization is beneficial to it or not. Despite participating in UN sanctions, Chinese society's friendship to the North remains unchanged. Chinese sanctions only target at its nuclear weapon program, and we are firmly opposed to Seoul's political fantasy against Pyongyang.    

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