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2017-08-23    来源:FT中文网    【      美国外教 在线口语培训


Sanctions on North Korea pose little risk to Kim Jong Un’s regime

China this month moved to implement the sanctions on North Korea passed unanimously by the UN Security Council following Pyongyang’s repeated missile tests. Beijing said it will cut off imports of North Korean coal, iron ore and seafood in three weeks. The sanctions aim to cut North Korea’s $3bn in annual exports by a third. If universally implemented, they could have massive repercussions for the country’s economy.
中国已于本月15日起开始执行联合国安理会(UN Security Council)在朝鲜多次试射导弹后一致通过的制裁决议。中国当时表示,政策缓冲期为3周,之后将不再为进口自朝鲜的煤、铁矿石、水海产品办理进口手续。这轮制裁旨在将朝鲜30亿美元年度出口额削减三分之一。如果制裁得到全面执行,可能会对朝鲜经济造成强烈影响。

Shortly after voting in favour of the new hard-hitting measures, Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, said: “Given China’s traditional economic ties with North Korea, China more than anyone will pay a price for implementing the resolution.”

He added: “In order to maintain the international nuclear non-proliferation system and regional peace and stability, China will, as always, enforce the full content of relevant resolutions in a comprehensive and strict manner.”

The statement rings hollow, given how little North Korea matters economically to Beijing.


Given the high stakes involved in the current round of sanctions, and how little is known about China’s economic ties to North Korea, it is worth considering just how insignificant the reclusive state is to China’s economy.

While China’s economic engagement with North Korea has grown at breakneck speed in recent years — despite the sanctions imposed on Pyongyang — it makes up only a minimal share of Chinese international trade. In fact, while China traded with North Korea to the tune of about $5.29bn in 2015, its total trade volume that year was $3.64tn. In other words, trade with North Korea makes up just over 0.1 per cent of China’s bilateral trade.

China’s foreign investment in the hermit kingdom paints the same picture. At the end of 2015, China’s outward investment stock passed the $1tn mark for the first time. How much of China’s investment is in North Korea? That same year, the total figure was $625m. Therefore, in 2015, about 0.06 per cent of officially reported Chinese foreign assets were invested in North Korea. Much of China’s outward investment flows through offshore financial centers, and is therefore difficult to track, but these figures speak for themselves.

From the North Korean perspective the situation is quite different. China’s economic engagement has long represented Pyongyang’s lifeline. In 2015, more than 80 per cent of North Korea’s exports, largely coal, were destined for China. Its import basket is even more dependent on staying in Beijing’s good graces: more than 85 per cent of North Korea’s imports originate in China. Therefore, if Beijing imposes a chokehold on North Korea’s economy as agreed in the newest basket of sanctions, the effects on its economy will be devastating.

The Kim dynasty has proven to be remarkably resistant to sanctions. It is unlikely that the lifestyle of Kim Jong Un and his closest allies would change dramatically because of a deteriorating economic situation; the suffering would simply be passed down to ordinary North Koreans. That said, the sanctions will undoubtedly apply some pressure on the regime, and reduce the funds at its disposal for missile testing.
事实证明,金氏王朝明显对制裁免疫。金正恩(Kim Jong Un)及其密友的生活方式不太可能因为经济局势恶化而发生明显变化;受苦的只会是朝鲜普通民众。但即便如此,制裁无疑会对金正恩政权产生一些压力,并减少其可用于导弹试验的资金。

The imbalance in Chinese-North Korean economic relations is staggering. Beijing could virtually wipe out North Korea’s international trade and feel barely a sting in the process. Therefore, as Beijing decides whether and how to implement the sanctions on its north-east neighbour, economic considerations will hardly be part of its calculus.

On the other hand, the situation on the Korean Peninsula matters a great deal for Beijing in strategic terms. China has two key strategic concerns when it comes to the Korean Peninsula or, more specifically, the potential for a sudden downfall of the Kim dynasty. First, if the North Korean state collapsed overnight, up to 25m refugees would potentially pour into China’s borders. Second, if the Kim regime ceased to exist, a reunification like that experienced by Germany in 1990 would leave Beijing sharing a land border with a key US ally.

Mr. Wang’s statement is designed to portray China’s decision in a self-sacrificing light. Yet the idea that China’s business and economic interests would be seriously hurt by sanctions against Pyongyang does not hold up to scrutiny.

China’s policy towards North Korea has and continues to be based on the strategic interest of maintaining the status quo in North Korea to avoid a refugee crisis or an encroachment by US allies. The sanctions vote was cast with the expectation that it poses minimal risk to the survival of the Kim regime, and the certainty that its effects on China’s economy will be negligible.

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