North Korean companies in China were given orders by the Chinese government to close down operations in the territory within 120 days. The instruction includes joint ventures between Chinese and North Korean companies.
China’s decision was in compliance with the United Nation’s recent sanctions against North Korea which over the last few months reportedly detonated a hydrogen bomb and fired an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile over Japan.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted for the imposition of the latest round of sanctions on 11 September. Since 2006, the United Nations have levied a total of 10 economic sanctions on the reclusive state. Despite the sanctions, North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests.
For decades, China has been a major ally of North Korea and is the largest market for textiles and oil exports. But Beijing’s patience with the regime has been growing thin with its continued testing of nuclear weapons and destructive rhetoric. With China’s decision, North Korea has become more politically and economically isolated.
In early 2017, China rescinded its agreement to purchase coal, seafood and iron from Pyongyang. Already reeling from the suspension of textile imports, the latest round of economic sanctions will significantly drain North Korea’s foreign exchange reserves.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump called out countries that continued to do business with North Korea and requested China to impose tougher sanctions. China has had a contentious relationship with President Trump who has accused the country of currency manipulation and other unfair trade practices.
The rhetoric on war has increased the last few weeks between President Trump and North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un. President Trump told the U.N delegation that if the regime continues to pose a threat, America may have no choice except to “Destroy North Korea”. Meanwhile Kim has stated the Trump’s threats are being considered a declaration of war.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang remains hopeful that war will not break out between the two countries in the Korean peninsula. Lu believes the sanctions on North Korea and constant discussions among parties will ultimately lead to a favourable resolution.