On May 7, the Wall Street Journal revealed (paywall) a previously unreported partnership between China’s Limac Corporation and North Korea’s Ryonbong General Corporation that has been in place since 2008 “to mine tantalum, niobium and zirconium, minerals that are useful in making phones and computers but also nuclear reactors and missiles.” The business venture violates years of sanctions against Ryonbong imposed by the U.S. since 2005 and by the UN since 2009 because of the company’s suspected involvement with weapons of mass destruction.
A U.S.-based financial intelligence firm called Sayari Analytics had uncovered the Limac-Ryonbong link but did not publicize it, and neither it nor the Journal were able to confirm the current status of the partnership. Limac told the Journal that the venture “never launched regular business activities,” though “Chinese corporate records show the joint venture maintained a registered office in China” until February 2017.
The existence of such a sanctions-defying business venture underscores the continuing gap between how much China is willing to criticize North Korea and how much it is willing to exert economic pressure on the Hermit Kingdom. Despite “fraying ties” between the two countries as illustrated by a war of words in both sides’ state media, China announced (paywall) last month that its trade with North Korea had expanded, even as it denied coal shipments and claimed to comply with all UN sanctions.
Opinion: Taiwan arms deal in limbo as Trump courts China / Washington Post
“The administration risks giving in to China on one of its top priorities in exchange for nothing concrete, while putting the safety of the island democracy in increased danger,” Josh Rogin writes.
China demands Taiwan free injured fishermen / Reuters
According to reports from Taiwan’s coast guard and China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, two fishermen from the mainland ventured out near the Penghu Islands, administered by Taiwan, the coast guard shot rubber bullets, inflicting minor injuries, and the fishermen were detained. The incident adds to already unusually tense relations across the Taiwan Strait.
- Taiwan wants ‘friendly’ China ties amid tilt to Southeast Asia / Bloomberg
- Civilian group from mainland China to take more prominent role in cross-strait affairs / SCMP
Syria says up to 5,000 Chinese Uighurs fighting in militant groups / Reuters
The Syrian ambassador to China corroborated the upper-level estimates on how many Muslims from western China are fighting in Syria. Other experts have estimated a much-lower number of 300.
- China puts body cameras on troubled security force / WSJ (paywall)
- China to further tighten its internet controls / Reuters
- Ai Weiwei: How censorship works / NYT (paywall)