Why China Supports New Sanctions Against North Korea : Parallels A U.S. Treasury official tells NPR that China is moving purposefully to apply new sanctions on North Korea. But economic losses or potential U.S. sanctions on Chinese firms could lead to friction.
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Why China Supports New Sanctions Against North Korea

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Why China Supports New Sanctions Against North Korea

Why China Supports New Sanctions Against North Korea

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The U.S. has imposed new sanctions on North Korea. These are an addition to new U.N. sanctions and in stopping the country's nuclear ambitions. NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing. Whether the sanctions work may depend on how China implements them.

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: Beijing has begun instructing Chinese banks, ports shipping and trading companies doing business with North Korea to implement the U.N. resolution to the letter.

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ADAM ZUBAAN: I know from my meetings here in Beijing that my counterparts have very much taken the resolution to heart.

KUHN: That's U.S. Treasury acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Adam Zubaan, who is here this week. Zubaan says that the new sanctions will hit hard enough to change, as he puts it, Pyongyang's decision-making calculus. He insists that the new sanctions are not like the previous ones

ZUBAAN: Adding a few new companies to a sanctions list or a few new North Korean officials, but targeting every major aspect of North Korea's access to international shipping, international banking, international trade to develop revenues for its missile and its illicit nuclear program.

KUHN: China appears committed but the sanctions put them in a tough spot. First, says People's University international relations expert Cheng Xiaohe, some Chinese companies are going to take a hit to their bottom line.

CHENG XIAOHE: (Through interpreter) At the same time, we protect our national security interest, we must be prepared to sacrifice some of our own economic interests.

KUHN: Cheng says the U.S. has it's work cut out for it, collecting intelligence on the hundreds of Chinese firms doing business with North Korea. But if these firms are found to be violating the U.N. resolution, they could themselves face sanctions.

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XIAOHE: (Through interpreter) This could create new frictions between the U.S. and China. I hope the U.S. will think carefully before it uses this big stick to crack down on Chinese firms.

KUHN: Cheng notes that China continues supply North Korea with crude oil as humanitarian assistance. The sanctions allow this even if North Korea may be able to refine some of the oil for military uses. China says North Korean regime collapse is not an acceptable option. But Zhang Liangui, a veteran North Korea watcher at China's Central Party School in Beijing, says that at the end of the day China cannot save North Korea from its fate.

ZHANG LIANGUI: (Foreign language spoken).

KUHN: "If North Korea is going to collapse," he says, "no external force can prop it up. Frankly speaking, whether it collapses or it continues to develop will mainly depend on its own domestic and foreign policies." Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beijing.

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