Why didn’t this receive bigger fanfare yesterday? It’s an extremely important development. China is reducing its shipments of crude oil to North Korea:
SEOUL, South Korea – China has reduced shipments of crude oil to North Korea, apparently in response to Pyongyang’s missile tests, a news report said Saturday.
China, the communist North’s closest ally and key provider of oil, also has agreed with South Korea to cooperate to prevent a possible North Korean nuclear test.
South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper said China has reduced “a significant amount” of its oil supplies to Pyongyang since the July 5 missile launches.
The report cited unnamed officials at an oil storage terminal near the Chinese border city of Dandon.
If true this would be a critical development, suggesting that China is more concerned about North Korea’s direction (and the attendant embarrassment to China in being unable to control that direction) than they are about further isolating the Pyongyang regime.
I’ve said for years that the participation of the Chinese was fundamental to obtaining meaningful concessions from North Korea. This looks like a small but very responsible step in the right direction.
UPDATE: More on China’s increasing willingness to shoulder international responsibility from Michael Fullilove at the International Herald Tribune.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The most recent developments in the North Korea story are here.