The U.S. State Department on Tuesday accused China of “flagrant violation” of its obligation to enforce international sanctions on North Korea and said Washington would offer rewards of up to $5 million US for information about sanctions evasions.
Speaking to Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, 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 China had continued to host at least 20,000 North Korean labourers in violation of UN bans and that in the past year the United States 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 noted that China currently hosted no fewer that two dozen North Korea representatives connected to Pyongyang’s weapons of mass destruction programs 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.