China suspends North Korean coal imports, striking at regime's financial lifeline

Beijing is no doubt averse to that, but it is probably even more alarmed at the prospect of a subsequent breakdown of the border between South Korea and North Korea. Beijing urges US diplomatic engagement. The freeze includes all incoming North Korean coal shipments that importers had applied for but not yet received official approval, the Chinese ministry said. But the North is growing more defiant, provocative and unpredictable, and the South has increasingly turned to a USA -led security alliance. If enforced, the loss of coal revenue could tighten the screws on leader Kim Jong Un after his government's acceleration of nuclear and missile tests this a year ago.

China rarely makes concessions for free, and will want Trump to respond in kind. After North Korea refused to trade its nuclear program for normalized global relations and withdrew from negotiations over it, Beijing became the target of growing worldwide pressure urging it to exercise its influence and rein in the North.

Beijing indicated such a strategy was in play.

China remains committed to "resolving the issue through negotiation and consultation", Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a press briefing Wednesday.

Hacks are especially likely to ramp up as Pyongyang searches for ways to fund the final stage of its quest for a nuclear-armed ballistic missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

Any breakthrough would nearly surely require U.S.

China and Russian Federation have repeatedly showed their objection to the deployment of THAAD, arguing that their real aim was to deter the strategic weapon systems not only in the Korean Peninsula's North, but primarily in China's hinterlands and Russia's Far East regions.

China will suspend all imports of coal from North Korea until the end of the year, the Commerce Ministry announced Saturday, in a surprise move that would cut off a major financial lifeline for Pyongyang and significantly enhance the effectiveness of United Nations sanctions. This preoccupation with stability serves several of China's strategic goals, which include avoiding a flood of refugees into China's northeast (a region that already faces a precarious economic situation), maintaining North Korea as a strategic buffer separating China from US and ROK forces, and reducing the chance that tensions might escalate into a nuclear conflict near China's borders.

China's decision on coal could change the USA calculus. North Korea has accelerated its development of nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles since 2009, when it walked away from six-party talks involving the U.S., South Korea, China, Russia and Japan. North Korea is also the chief suspect in the attempted heist of $1 billion dollars (it netted $81 million) from Bangladesh Central Bank last February.

But China has exploited loopholes in the past, raising questions about alternative motivations.

"The coal import ban is likely unrelated to the recent alleged murder of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged brother of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un, Yang Xiyu said".

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