The US Department of State on Tuesday accused China of “flagrant violation” of its obligation to enforce international sanctions on North Korea and said the United States would offer rewards of up to $5m for information about sanctions evasions.
Speaking to Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank, US State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for North Korea Alex Wong accused China of “seeking to undo” the United Nations sanctions regime aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.
Wong said that China had continued to host at least 20,000 North Korean labourers in violation of UN bans and that in the past year the US had observed ships carrying prohibited coal or other sanctioned goods from North Korea to China on 555 separate occasions.
“On none of these occasions did the Chinese authorities act to stop these illicit imports. Not once,” Wong said.
He added that China currently hosted no fewer than two dozen North Korean representatives connected to Pyongyang’s weapons of mass destruction programmes or banks.
He accused China of “seeking to undo the UN sanctions regime they themselves voted for in 2006, in 2009, in 2013, in 2016, and in 2017.”
“They are seeking to revive trade links and revenue transfers to the North, thereby ensuring Chinese reach into the North’s economy,” he said.
China insists it abides by UN sanctions requirements on North Korea, although it has also expressed hope, along with Russia, that an easing of those conditions could help break the deadlock in nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang.