Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced on Thursday Beijing’s support for punitive action against North Korea for its recent ballistic missile tests over Japan.
The United States has proposed an oil embargo against North Korea enforced by the United Nations after Pyongyang authorized nuclear tests that violated several UN resolutions.
Yi encouraged the global community to reach a consensus on a strategy to deescalate the North Korean nuclear program and eventually invite Pyongyang into international diplomatic circles.
In additional to the oil embargo, the U.S. wants to see North Korean textiles exports banned and create a barrier to the hiring of North Korean workers abroad, Reuters said.
North Korea depends on China for 90 percent of its crude oil supply. Stopping shipments to its neighbor will wreak havoc on Kim Jong Un’s dictatorship, which China has been trying to avoid. A regime collapse is likely to result in a massive influx of refugees. Beijing has also opposed President Donald Trump’s push to penalize North Korea for the nuclear tests so far, but the mood is changing given Pyongyang’s most recent tests.
Last week North Korea launched an intercontinental missile over Japan. On Sunday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a statement that the United States is prepared for “a massive military response” to any attacks from North Korea to it or one of its allies. Mattis added that "We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea, but as I said, we have many options to do so."
So far, the U.S. has targeted only minor Chinese banks and companies for trading or doing business with North Korea, which props up Kim’s economy. Trump’s new approach will cast a wider net, which may include China’s huge national oil companies.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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