Corruption, Sanctions, Dandong

In two essays which I anticipate publishing this week (in NK News and CPI Analysis, respectively), I question the connection between Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption activity and the implementation of sanctions on North Korea.

Here are some of the data points I’m dealing with, in no particular order. Sadly, in pulling my research materials together, I found that the Hongxiang firm appears to have wiped its website of most of the good stuff. Likewise, a handful of promising blog entries published in mainland China in the last two weeks have been “harmonized” (i.e., deleted) by Chinese censors.

In a subsequent post on Sino-NK, I hope to discuss what I learned from conversations with Chinese counterparts I met with in Seoul last week, thanks to a small gathering sponsored by the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, a think-tank overseen by the ROK Foreign Ministry. There was some scuttlebutt there about the Hongxiang case, so my ideas were certainly workshopped, and, I think, of interest to Korean counterparts. However, the Hongxiang glimmers of positive collaboration were mainly overshadowed by a bruising US-China-ROK anti-missile debate that nearly got out of control at times. On the whole the ethos was one of healthy discussion and plenty of conversations over meals and drinks which one imagines to be where the real diplomacy actually takes place.

Anyway, a look at what we know about Dandong, the anti-corruption struggle in and around it, and a few related themes which I hope to bring together in my upcoming work:

  • South Korean newspaper interviews trader in Dandong who expresses surprise that PRC has not put tougher customs inspections on North Korea after the 5th nuclear test [“More robust N. Korea-China trade happens after nuclear test,” Dong-A Ilbo, 18 September 2016].
  • People’s Daily in Beijing describes a new wave of officials appointed in Liaoning, including a new Party Secretary for the CCP Party Committee (essentially the top job) in Dandong. [刘兴伟拟任辽宁丹东市委书记 高科拟任盘锦市委书记
    2016年09月19 人民网-地方领导]

问:据报道,中美两国正合作调查涉嫌协助朝鲜发展核项目的公司,其中就包括和朝鲜有密切贸易往来的辽宁鸿翔实业发展公司。你能否证实有关情况?
答:你也知道,中方反对朝鲜发展核武器的立场是一贯的、明确的。中方在推动半岛无核化方面作出了坚持不懈的努力。我们一直认真执行安理会第2270号决议,履行自己在防扩散出口控制等方面的国际义务,作出的努力有目共睹。
至于你提到的有关企业,中国有关部门正在依法对其经济犯罪等违法行为进行调查处理,并已于近日公布了相关消息。

问:李克强总理、王毅外长和朝鲜外务相李勇浩都在纽约参加第71届联合国大会系列高级别会议。中方是否利用这一机会与朝方进行双边会谈,要求朝鲜放弃核开发计划?
答:李克强总理出席第71届联合国大会系列高级别会议期间,同联合国秘书长及有关国家领导人举行了双边会晤。王毅外长在此期间也同其他国家外长举行了会晤。有关会晤消息,我们都会及时发布。

问:据报道,朝鲜方面今天宣称,日前成功进行了新型运载火箭发动机试验。美方认为朝鲜获得这项技术是与伊朗合作的结果。中方认为朝鲜此举是属于和平利用外空还是违反了现行的制裁决议?
答:关于朝鲜使用弹道导弹技术进行发射活动问题,在当前形势下,安理会是有明文规定的。我们希望所有有关各方都能够履行根据安理会决议所承担的义务。

Image: A night drive along the Yalu River, moon over the northeastern outskirts of Sinuiju, DPRK. Photo by Adam Cathcart, 2016. 

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