Reuters reported on Wednesday that China’s state-controlled National Petroleum Corporation has suspended fuel sales to North Korea for an undetermined period of time. CNPC is the primary supplier of fuel to North Korea.
Hayward looks at many angles to explain what is going on. This excerpt may explain:
“It is a wrong perception that North Korea is completely dependent on China,” said defector Ri Jong-ho.Read more here.
He said dictator Kim Jong-un’s plan to replace Chinese oil with imports from Russia has been moving ahead at full steam since 2014, when a visit from Chinese President Xi Jinping to South Korea “infuriated” Kim and prompted him to begin viewing China as an “enemy state.”
If Ri’s assessment is correct, then some of the public confusion from the Chinese government over suspended fuel sales to North Korea might be due to the reluctance of Chinese officials to admit they have lost much of their leverage over Pyongyang. China has traditionally profited greatly from selling itself as the last resort for curbing the worst excesses of the Kim regime. If that posture is now a bluff, Beijing will not want it to be called, and the current suspension of fuel sales might really be best understood as apprehension over North Korea’s willingness and ability to pay.