China is likely to smuggle coal from North Korea and avoid UN sanctions

According to a recent survey, North Korea may be shipping coal directly to China. As one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China’s smuggling activities are likely to be a violation of UN sanctions against North Korea.

Japanese media Nikkei On June 29, it reported that it obtained data from two ship information companies, Marine Traffic and Refinitiv, about about 180 ships closely related to North Korea, and tracked the movement for 18 months from January 2021. did.

While transmitting Automatic Identification System (AIS) data, 37 vessels were moored at Longkou Port in Shandong Province, China. In addition, at least 20 vessels were moored at the ports of Liaoning Province and Hebei Football Club, which handle large amounts of coal.

Nikkei reported on August 8, 2021 that satellite images showed that a cargo ship was moored at a coal loading berth at Nanpo Port in North Korea. According to three experts who studied high-resolution images, the layout and features of the ship are consistent with Taepyeong 2 registered in North Korea.

We then used the ship’s AIS data to track subsequent movements.

The next day, August 9, a signal was detected in the Yellow Sea near Nanpo. After that, I moved west to the coastal area of ​​Shandong Province in China. The ship entered Longkou Port, Shandong Province at 3:00 am on August 13, and stayed there until August 26. During this time, the AIS signal will be sent to the adjacent berth after the ship stays in the berth where coal is normally unloaded.

A March 2022 report by a panel of experts from the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea also referred to Taepyeong 2’s move in China.

When the panel asked Beijing to disclose information about the vessel, Chinese officials said, “Taepyeong 2 has entered Yantai Port. [empty] Departed in March and August 2021 respectively [with] Fertilizer and other produce of the same month. “

However, the image taken by Nikkei on August 8 and the subsequent movement of the ship seem to be a different story.

“The ship departed for a coal port in China by the next day. [Aug. 9]So it’s hard to imagine dropping coal at a North Korean port, “said Takeuchi, a former member of the UN Commission. “It is reasonable to think that the ship shipped coal to China and loaded another cargo on the way back.”

“China-probably one of the five permanent members [UN] The Security Council is involved in smuggling activities, indicating that current UN sanctions to prevent North Korea from obtaining funding for missile development have not been fully implemented, “Nikkei said. I concluded.

Outlet also said similar suspicious activity continued this year.

Previously, North Korean vessels blocked AIS transmissions so that they could not be tracked and moved and traded at night.

“Observers have often noticed the ship-to-ship movement that North Korea used to circumvent traditional distribution channels, but the country is no longer trying to hide ships that violate sanctions.” Nikkei reported.

In November 2016, the UN Security Council restricted North Korea’s coal exports. Then, on August 5, 2017, a resolution was passed to completely ban North Korea’s coal exports and block foreign funds, which are an important source of funding for North Korea’s nuclear weapons and long-range missile programs.

China suffered a serious shortage of both coal and electricity last year.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) October 2021 Report Trading companies belonging to the North Korean government and military agencies often smuggle coal into China via ship-to-ship transport on the open sea. To avoid US satellite surveillance, these smugglers need to navigate across the ocean at night in the dark. Insiders told RFA that the sudden increase in North Korea’s coal smuggling activity was due to China’s coal shortage and surge in demand at the time.

Japan’s Kyodo News also reported in a February 2020 report that from January to August 2019, North Korea exported 3.7 million tons of coal to China, ignoring UN sanctions, more than 70% of which. Said that it was related to the movement from ship to ship.

The transfer of North Korean cargo from ship to ship has long been a sneaky way to circumvent UN sanctions and has been criticized by the international community.

Jessica Mao


Jessica Mao is a writer of The Epoch Times, focusing on topics related to China. She started writing her Chinese version in 2009.