China-North Korea reconciliation raises concerns over relaxation of N. Korean sanctions

Jun 03, 2016, 08:00 am

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By Hong Soon-do, Beijing correspondent, AsiaToday - The China-North Korea relationship that has been strained will likely to improve rapidly as Ri Su-yong, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party returned to Pyongyang on Thursday after his visit to China as a special envoy for leader Kim Jong-un. As a result, concerns have been raised over the relaxing of North Korean sanctions led by the United States and South Korea.

According to Beijing sources familiar with China-North Korea relationship issue on Thursday, the relationship between the two countries creates suspicion whether UN Security Council Resolution 2270 is being implemented or not. Most of all, China announced its intention to provide less than half a million tons of food aid to North Korea. Initially, Ri had requested 1 million tons of food aid, but the actual scale of support is expected to shrink. However, it's a great amount considering tough sanctions imposed on North Korea by the international community.

Besides, North Korea is constructing highways between Sinuiju-Kaesong and Wonsan-Hamhung under a joint project with China, and will be holding a groundbreaking ceremony on July 27 this year. In some ways, the two countries are cooperating more actively than before the sanctions. The highway, once completed, will bring some of North Korea and China's major logistics and transportation even closer.

The crew of Air Koryo are carrying a cake to celebrate the operation of charteredplane between Pyongyang and China's east city of Jinan on May 31./ Source: Qilu Evening News

The skyways are wide open for them as well. Recently North Korea's national carrier Air Koryo operated a chartered plane twice to Qingdao of Shandong Province. Besides, it launched a regular service between Pyongyang and China's east city of Jinan on May 31. More routes will be possibly made in the future.

Moreover, China will open an international logistics centre in Jilin province's Tumen, which is separated from North Korea's Namyang by the Tumen River, in September. Considering the fact that China is promoting this project purely for trade and economic cooperation with North Korea, there's no doubt that China-North Korea relations is recovering fast.

Obviously, China's such behavior will spark U.S. backlash. Perhaps, the North Korean nuclear issue might be addressed at the 8th U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue which will be held on June 6-7 in Beijing. But China seems to be prepared. This is why there are rumors circulating among Western diplomatic sources in Beijing that China is actively mediating for a peace treaty between North Korea and the United States in return for Pyongyang's re-entry to the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). It's not an exaggeration to say that the international situation regarding the North Korean nuclear issue is facing a critical moment.

#US #China-North Korea relations #reconciliation #sanctions #UN Security Council Resolution 2270 
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