It has been reported that China’s customs officers have ramped up the level of their inspections focusing on gasoline smuggling by North Korean merchants. The Chinese authorities appear to be taking firm action in accordance with UNSC Resolution 2375 on sanctions against North Korea.
On September 11, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2375 on sanctions against North Korea which includes a 30% reduction in the supply of oil to North Korea. Following this, China’s customs offices have strengthened inspections focusing on gasoline smuggling from North Korea near the Yalu River.
The efforts are seen as an attempt to discern the scale of gasoline trading in the border areas between China and North Korea prior to setting upper limits on export volumes of refined petroleum products to North Korea, which will be imposed from October 1 according to the UNSC resolution.
At the Quanhe Customs Office in Hunchun City, Jilin Province, the officials are said to be conducting high-intensity inspections on every truck going into North Korea, carefully scrutinizing every vehicle individually. In the past, Chinese traders were able to load gasoline in oil drums for delivery into North Korea, but this practice is no longer permitted.
A source familiar with North Korean affairs in China told Daily NK on September 25, “The Chinese customs officers are strictly prohibiting Chinese traders from bringing sanctioned items into North Korea. They are scrutinizing all parts of the trading trucks and demanding them to give a detailed explanation if even a small amount of gasoline is found during the inspection.”
A similar turn of events is occurring in Dandong, Liaoning Province, according to a separate source in the region. The Chinese authorities have reportedly begun inspecting even small vessels on the Yalu River in order to thoroughly block potential routes for gasoline smuggling.
Daily NK recently reported that a vehicle smuggling route near the New Yalu River Bridge has also been blocked with a pile of earth.
As China tightens control over the smuggling of gasoline from North Korea, attention has turned to the price fluctuations of gasoline within North Korea. Gasoline prices spiked on rumors about the new sanctions following the isolated country’s sixth nuclear test, beginning in Pyongyang and spreading to the provincial areas.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced on September 23 that it will put an upper limit on export volumes of refined petroleum products to North Korea from October 1, in accordance with the UNSC resolution. UNSC Resolution 2375 stipulates that oil products exported to North Korea from October 1 to December 31 must not exceed 500,000 barrels (60,000 tons), and the annual export volume must not exceed 2 million barrels (240,000 tons) from January next year.