Analysis: U.S. and China battle it out on North Korea

North Korea has been hit by a Communist virus (Wuhan pneumonia) epidemic and economic sanctions that have put dictator Kim Jong-un under enormous pressure. Recent figures show that trade between the CCP and North Korea is picking up and that the CCP is harboring North Korean hackers, worrying the U.S. government. The U.S. has liberalized remaining restrictions on South Korea’s missile development in response to North Korea’s nuclear program, and this is also a part of the U.S. effort to keep the Chinese Communist Party in check. A new report by a U.S. think tank says the Chinese Communist Party is not complying with its non-proliferation commitments.

China’s Communist Party continues to support North Korea, trade between the two countries is picking up

North Korea’s economy has been hit by sanctions and border closures due to the epidemic. Trade between North Korea and China is picking up recently, the Financial Times Chinese website reports, easing pressure on Kim Jong Un.

Data analyzed by NK Pro, a North Korea-focused information service, shows that at least 52 vessels that appear to be linked to North Korea were active in the waters around North Korea and China in April and May of this year, compared with single-digit vessels observed for weeks at a time last year.

This latest data, based on Automatic Identification System records, also shows an increase in the number of North Korean-flagged tankers traveling in the waters, indicating a pickup in Chinese fuel shipments or sales to North Korea.

The increase in shipping activity follows warnings that North Korea’s food shortages and economic crisis are worsening. Last year, Kim Jong Un made a rare admission of North Korea’s development failures.

Analysts say China (Communist Party of China) has likely maintained a years-long policy – propping up stability on Pyongyang’s side by providing food, fertilizer and fuel.

According to a United Nations (UN) report, illegal fuel shipments to North Korea continued throughout 2020 through ship-to-ship transfers and “elaborate means.

Questions about China’s support for North Korea and its sanctions-busting activities have been mounting just weeks after the U.S. completed a review of its policy toward North Korea. The U.S. has said it is open to diplomatic engagement and restarting frozen nuclear talks.

Go Myong-hyun, an expert on North Korea’s economy at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, said the Biden administration appears to be downplaying the implementation of sanctions, which serves a larger goal of keeping relations with North Korea stable rather than spurring a return to missile or nuclear testing.

Chinese Communist Party Shelters North Korean Hackers

An article by Katrina Northrop, a lead writer for the new media outlet The Wire China, suggests that the Chinese Communist Party has helped North Korean hackers get away with murder.

In recent decades, the Chinese Communist Party has become a key facilitator of North Korean cyber operations. One indicted North Korean hacker, Park Jin Hyok, reportedly worked in Dalian for several years.

When the notorious North Korean hacking group Lazarus needed help, it knew just who to go to. Whether it was trying to find a place to put its hackers, hiring money launderers to steal stolen money from cyberattacks, or even connecting to the Internet within North Korea, the cybercrime group turned to its trusted accomplice: the Chinese Communist Party.

For the U.S. government, the CCP’s role in these attacks is worrisome. “North Korea’s malicious activity, including the theft of millions of dollars, is aberrant activity for a nation-state,” said Adam Hickey, deputy attorney general for national security at the Department of Justice. “By allowing it to happen rather than suppressing it harshly, China (the Chinese Communist Party) is endangering not only the United States, but the world.”

The Chinese Communist Party is North Korea’s closest ally and largest trading partner. “If the Chinese Communist Party were to stop helping North Korea, everything from its economic performance to the scope of its hacking activities would be greatly affected,” said Jason Bartlett, a researcher at the Center for a New American Security who recently published a report on North Korean hacking. “One of the reasons North Korea is able to continue to exist is because of China (the Chinese Communist Party).” Bartlett said.

U.S. liberalizes South Korean missiles

Recently, South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited the U.S. Moon held talks with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on May 21 local time, where the two sides exchanged views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula, bilateral cooperation and the South Korea-U.S. alliance, and issued a joint statement.

Biden stressed that the two countries are very concerned about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and demanded that there must be a diplomatic solution. Both leaders agreed to lift the remaining restrictions on South Korea’s missile development. Moon’s security adviser noted that this means that South Korea regains “missile sovereignty.

In 1979, South Korea signed the Korea-U.S. Missile Policy to acquire missile technology from the U.S., which imposed restrictions on the range and weight of missiles made by South Korea, and Moon announced after the summit that the restrictions of this policy were completely lifted.

The Chosun Ilbo, Dong-A Ilbo and other Korean media pointed out that the abolition of the policy does not only mean that South Korea has completely regained its missile autonomy and strengthened its defense capabilities, but also means that South Korea will be able to manufacture missiles with a range of up to China, becoming a part of the U.S. side’s efforts to control the Chinese Communist Party.

White House spokeswoman Jen Paski was asked by the media after the meeting how the U.S. should cooperate with South Korea and Japan in this situation, given their close economic ties with China. Paski replied that Biden’s highest priority since taking office was to hold summits with Japan and South Korea to express the importance of the partnership between the two countries; the U.S. understands that the two Koreas may have different views on the U.S.-China relationship, but the most important thing is whether there is room for the two sides to conclude a partnership.

The joint statement issued after the Korea-U.S. summit included the Taiwan Strait issue, which the Chinese Communist Party’s official media said was “interference in internal affairs. The South Korean government, which has been a sandwich between the U.S. and China, avoided mentioning China in the statement, but some experts say that South Korea has actually moved closer to the U.S.

According to an op-ed published in the Chinese edition of Chosun Ilbo, North Korea has now developed an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range of about 10,000 kilometers, and the development of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is about to be completed. The South Korean and U.S. heads decided to abolish the missile guidelines between the two countries. In other words, the range limit will be completely removed. One can’t help but feel that it is too late.

If South Korea wants to survive in Northeast Asia, which is surrounded by powerful countries, it must at least make countries that intend to violate South Korea’s territory and sovereignty realize that by doing so, they may also suffer great losses. In this case, neither North Korea, which claims nuclear weapons as a deterrent, nor China, which provides sanctuary to such a North Korea, is in a position to intervene.

China’s Failure to Comply with Non-Proliferation Commitments

A new report by a congressional think tank says the Chinese Communist Party is not complying with its nonproliferation commitments.

The report, released May 18, says that while the Chinese government is not directly involved in transferring nuclear and missile-related programs, entities in China continue to export goods related to those programs, particularly to Iran and North Korea, the Voice of America reports. The report noted that entities in China also provide other forms of support for the proliferation of these sensitive technologies, such as illicit financial services and money laundering.

A 2018 U.S. Treasury Department report revealed that Chinese entities provided support for Iran’s and North Korea’s WMD programs. Specifically, North Korea operates a network of financial representatives in China who act as proxies for North Korean financial institutions, setting up shell companies and managing secret bank accounts to transfer and conceal illicit funds and evade sanctions.