China arrests more than 10 business executives for North Korea trade

By Elizabeth Shim  |  Sept. 21, 2016 at 12:05 PM
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SEOUL, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- China has arrested more than 10 business executives for suspected dealings with North Korea.

The arrests could be a sign Beijing may be enacting unilateral sanctions ahead of a new resolution at the United Nations Security Council.

Sources in China near the North Korea border told South Korean news agency Yonhap that Chinese police made the arrests in early August in Dandong, on charges of "serious economic crimes" that include illegal trade.

The arrests were made in addition to investigations into Hongxiang Industrial Development Co., a large conglomerate owned by a member of the Chinese Communist Party.

Hongxiang Industrial was under U.S. and Chinese probe, which culminated in the freezing of assets of the company founder, 44-year-old Ma Xiaohong.

Ma has also been detained for illegal trading activities, Yonhap's sources say.

The arrests are part of a new wave of unilateral sanctions China is independently enforcing as North Korea escalates tensions with multiple ballistic missile tests and a fifth nuclear test, according to the report.

One source said some companies are "suspected of receiving a large amount of smuggled foreign currency, including U.S. dollars."

A second source said border control has become "more strict" and that a North Korean national who was attempting to smuggle 40 cases of bear bile, a traditional elixir, was arrested. Another man of unidentified national origin was detained while trying to cross the border with U.S. dollars hidden in a bag, the source said.

Another source said the arrests are being made in order to alleviate international worries China isn't doing enough in response to North Korea's nuclear provocations.

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