Donald Trump berates China over oil flows to North Korea

Donald Trump berates China over oil flows to North Korea

US president warns of trade action after Beijing ‘caught red handed’ allowing shipments

Donald Trump has renewed threats of trade action against China, which he rebuked for being “caught red handed” allowing oil supplies to reach North Korea.

The US president’s comments followed reports this week of sanctions-busting ship-to-ship transfers of oil products at sea that had been documented by US reconnaissance satellites. “Caught RED HANDED”, he tweeted. “Very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea.

There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!” Mr Trump later said he had been “soft” on China’s trade practices in return for Beijing’s co-operation in dealing with Pyongyang, but suggested his patience was wearing thin.

“If they don’t help us with North Korea, then I do what I’ve always said I want to do,” he told the New York Times, in an apparent threat to take trade measures against China. “They have to help us much more,” he said “We have a nuclear menace out there, which is no good for China.”

On Friday, hours after Mr Trump’s comments, South Korea said it had seized a vessel that it has accused of transferring oil to North Korea. The Lighthouse Winmore flies a Hong Kong flag but its owner and manager is based in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, according to maritime intelligence company Equasis.

A marine tracking website gave its last known position off the northern coast of Taiwan, en route to the South Korean port of Yeosu. The US administration has led efforts to escalate sanctions against North Korea to force it to give up nuclear weapons. Mr Trump has also pushed China to use its sway with Pyongyang — but China insists it has no leverage. 

Beijing has supported UN sanctions against Pyongyang but has also often tried to soften them, saying they are counterproductive and may provoke a humanitarian catastrophe on its border.  Oil exports to North Korea were severely capped by a UN Security Council Resolution in September, following Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test.

But since then, US reconnaissance satellites have documented 30 cases of Chinese and North Korean ships linking up at sea, apparently transferring oil or oil products, according to a report on Tuesday in the leading South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, citing South Korean government officials.

Diplomats from an Asian country earlier this week confirmed that such ship-to-ship trading persisted. Beijing on Friday reiterated criticism of the South Korean reports as it responded to Mr Trump’s comments. “The recent series of reports on this situation do not conform with the facts”, said Hua Chunying, foreign ministry spokeswoman, adding that Beijing did not allow its “citizens or companies to engage in any activities that violate” UN resolutions.

Ship-to-ship trading of goods targeted for sanctions was specifically banned in September’s UN resolution, which also capped the amount of oil products North Korea is allowed to import at 500,000 barrels for the last three months of 2017, and at 2m a year thereafter. New sanctions this month slashed the limit on oil product imports next year even further, to 500,000 barrels — 90 per cent lower than normal levels — following a ballistic missile test last month by Pyongyang. es un sitio web oficial del Gobierno Argentino