Beijing forced to defend trade with North Korea after Chinese-made truck used to showcase missiles

Neil Connor
Chinese made military vehicles carry missiles with characters reading

Beijing was forced to defend its trade with North Korea on Tuesday after it emerged that Chinese-made trucks were used to display missiles in a huge military parade that was staged by Pyongyang.

The images of submarine-launched missiles being pulled by vehicles made by Chinese company Sinotruk at Saturday’s parade revealed the difficulty in enforcing strict UN sanctions on the reclusive state.

About 80 percent of North Korean overseas trade - including essential food and fuel products – is with China, a signatory of sanctions which ban the export largely of goods which Pyongyang could use to build up its military.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China conducts "normal" business with the North while adhering to UN Security Council sanctions which began in 2006.

The logo of Sinotruk, a Chinese company, is seen on a truck carrying submarine launched ballistic missiles Credit: KCNA

"China has been performing its international obligations strictly, including those stipulated in the Security Council resolution. But meanwhile, we carry on normal economic exchanges and trade with all parties including North Korea," Mr Lu said.

A sales manager for a Sinotruck dealer told the AP news agency that the trucks were modified for military use after being sold to North Korea.

Beijing banned the import of coal from North Korea in mid February, but its overall trade with North Korea has increased, customs officials said last week.

China’s influential Global Times newspaper threatened on Tuesday that China could halt “petroleum exports” to its neighbour, a move that would have a devastating affect on the North.

Pyongyang imports almost all its crude oil from China.

However, the state-run media outlet said China would never help the US with measure that would cause “the direct overthrow of the Pyongyang regime.”

“Cooperative efforts by China and the US will under no circumstance evolve into any kind of military action against North Korea,” said the newspaper, which has close ties with the ruling Communist Party.

Tensions have escalated over North Korea in recent weeks amid fears that Pyongyang is set to carry out its sixth nuclear test, a move that could provoke a response from US president Donald Trump, who ordered an aircraft carrier group to the region.

US Vice president Mike Pence assured Japan that Washington would stand with its ally in the event of hostilities from Pyongyang.

US Vice President Mike Pence, left, and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso listen to a question from a reporter during their joint press conference at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, Credit: AP

"We are with you 100 percent,” he said in Japan on Tuesday, during the second leg of a ten-day visit to Asia.

Meanwhile, A former South Korean ambassador to the United Nations has warned that the current North Korea crisis is the worst he has experienced in decades.

Oh Joon, who retired as ambassador and permanent representative to the UN in December, told The Telegraph: “I think this one is probably more serious than any other similar crisis we have had within the last few decades, not least because North Korea is very close to getting nuclear capabilities.”

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