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China Orders North Korean Businesses to Close

A worker sweeps inside a branch of the North Korean-operated restaurant in Beijing. China has said it has ordered North Korean businesses in China to close by early 2018.
China Orders North Korean Businesses to Close
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China has ordered all North Korean-owned businesses in the country to close by early January.

The decision supports sanctions placed by the United Nations on North Korea for its continued development of nuclear weapons and missiles. The move was announced in late September. It is expected to sharply limit the flow of money to North Korea.

China’s commerce ministry said that North Korean companies -- including joint operations with Chinese companies --must close within 120 days of September 11. That is the date the U.N. resolution was approved. The decision is expected to affect about 100 restaurants operated by North Koreans. About one fourth of them are in Beijing.

U.S. President Donald Trump will travel to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines from November 3 to November 14.

Last week, the Trump administration released a statement on the trip. It said, “The president’s engagements will strengthen the international resolve to confront the North Korean threat and ensure the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Trump will take part in meetings with leaders in the area. He is expected to talk about trade and the North Korean nuclear threat.

US seeks China's help in dealing with North Korea

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Chinese leaders last weekend. He called on the ruling Chinese Communist Party to take steps to limit oil supplies to North Korea. He also pressured officials to put in place all parts of U.N. Security Council sanctions.

U.S. officials say that North Korea will lose almost all of its export income if restrictions on trade in textiles, coal and some metals are enforced.

A cargo ship is loaded with coal during the opening ceremony of a new dock at the North Korean port of Rajin in 2014. United Nations Security Council sanctions target North Korea's coal exports.
A cargo ship is loaded with coal during the opening ceremony of a new dock at the North Korean port of Rajin in 2014. United Nations Security Council sanctions target North Korea's coal exports.

About 90 percent of North Korea’s foreign trade is with China. The United States believes China’s support is necessary to pressure North Korea to ends its nuclear program.

U.S. officials have praised recent actions by China. Trump recently said China had ordered its banks to stop dealing with North Korea. No public announcement, however, appears to have been made by China.

Wu Fei is a senior fellow at the Charhar Institute, a Chinese public diplomacy and international relations research group. Wu says there may be limits to the pressure sanctions can place on North Korea.

Wu says North Korea has “no industrial products to speak of, and their harvest is pretty much gathered in now. Their demand for basic resources will be pretty low for the next six months or so.”

Wu adds that North Korea’s need for outside resources is limited.

“They don’t rely on the outside world for much, and that includes China. North Korea wants to show the rest of the world how independent it is; this is the impression they want to create,” he says.

He believes North Korea can wait for six months before they must negotiate.

Chinese reporter Xu Xiang said public opinion in China is beginning to change. He said Chinese increasingly do not support North Korea.

Xu said, “This policy of opposing the U.S. and supporting North Korea: What have we gotten in return for the blood spilled by our fathers’ generation [in the 1950-1953 Korean War]?”

Xu also said Chinese are saying, “All it’s done is turn the Kim dynasty into even worse bandits than they were before. As Chinese citizens, we feel pretty unsafe.”

But Xu said China does not believe it can solve the North Korean nuclear crisis.

Ran Bogong is a retired professor from Toledo University. He says the ruling Chinese Communist Party is still hoping to force North Korea to make changes.

“China is hoping now to force Kim Jong Un into making some kind of compromise vis-à-vis the U.S.,” Ran said. “The U.S. and China need to work closely to ensure that when Trump visits, there is some kind of definite result. Neither Beijing nor Washington wants to see the North Korean issue create further conflict between them.”

I’m Mario Ritter.

This story was reported by Lin Ping and Yang Fan for the Mandarin Service of Radio Free Asia and by the RFA’s Cantonese Service. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted the RFA reports for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

sanction –n. measure put in place to cause a country to obey international law, usually by limiting or banning trade

engagements –n. Meetings or events that someone plans to attend

resolve –v. to find an answer to a problem

verifiable –adj. able to be proven true or correct

dynasty –n. a family that rules over a country for a long period of time

bandits –n. outlaws who steal from travelers

vis-à-vis –adv. in relation to, face to face with