The news of china engaging in trade with North Korea in spite of UN sanctions has come like a bolt from the blue for US President Donald Trump. He has expressed his disappointment at the about-turn of China. In April, soon after assuming charge, he had an interaction with his counterpart at the Mar-a-Lago estate, Florida. He had impressed upon Xi Jinping the need to enforce sanctions on North Korea to counter the possible threats and had assumed that Jinping would realize the gravity of the situation and act accordingly.

However, Sky News reports that three Chinese companies have had trade dealings worth millions of dollars with Pyongyang between January 2013 and the end of August 2017.

The products are believed to be oil and other goods and the transactions were done from ship to ship to bypass sanctions.

China supports North Korea

Data released through official US channels indicate that three Chinese companies have been carrying out business with North Korea, ignoring the restrictions imposed by the global community. In order to circumvent the sanctions, they have gone ahead with ship-to-ship transfers. The data reveals that the Chinese companies have exported goods worth nearly $650m to North Korea and have, in turn, imported nearly $100m worth goods from the hermit kingdom.

These claims are based on media reports of South Korea. It seems spy satellites have recorded several instances of ship-to-ship transfers since October.

However, sources in China’s foreign ministry apparently did not have any information about these activities. Its stand is that it has strictly enforced trade restrictions.

Donald Trump never expected China to resort to such measures, and he is disappointed. He feels that it is difficult to rein in North Korea unless sanctions are implemented and a brake is applied on its source of finance.

The nuclear threat remains

China has always been an ally of North Korea, and both of them share a common border. In case a war does break out, China would have to face a possible exodus of refugees. Therefore, the country has to be cautious about the actions that it takes. The UN sanctions were slapped on North Korea because it was conducting multiple missile tests, and China should ensure that the sanctions are not violated.

The Independent UK has reported that the caving in of the test tunnel along with the loss of lives is a matter of concern. The surrounding mountains have been damaged, probably from the underground nuclear tests of North Korea. This instability could lead to the spread of nuclear radiation.