China blocking North Korea ships ahead of U.N. resolution

China has shown commitment to sanctions since the North launched an "earth observation satellite" into space in early February.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Feb. 25, 2016 at 11:30 AM
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SEOUL, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- The United States and China are expected to pass the most stringent set of North Korea sanctions at the United Nations Security Council, but Beijing could be taking its own measures against reclusive Pyongyang.

After weeks of negotiations, the two sides have reached an agreement on a draft resolution that could penalize North Korea, a Security Council diplomat told CNN.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power is expected to present the draft sanctions Thursday, according to Kurtis Kooper of the U.S. mission to the U.N.

China has shown commitment to sanctions since the North launched an "earth observation satellite" into space in early February but has said dialogue with the North and regional stability is a priority.

But after a recent meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Beijing turned a corner on the sanctions issue, and the two sides agreed a tougher resolution is necessary.

"We hope and believe this resolution will curb the further development of nuclear missiles" in North Korea, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said. "China is willing to work with relevant parties to promote denuclearization of the peninsula."

Beijing may be working independently toward stricter regulations against the North.

Pyongyang depends heavily on China's hubs for trade, but on Thursday South Korean television network SBS reported North Korean ships have been banned from docking at ports in Dandong, China's border city that faces the North.

Dandong is a major gateway for North Korean iron ore and anthracite coal, but Pyongyang's vessels are no longer allowed to dock and transfer goods to China.

An unidentified Dandong port worker told SBS ships typically brought in 3,000 tons of raw materials, but a new state ordinance forbids North Korea shipments for the next two years.

Local sources said the ban is a response to North Korea's nuclear test and missile launch.

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