While the US has been pushing for diplomatic progress with North Korea to be met with even more restrict sanctions and restrictions, other countries have called for the UN to ease them. The US has blocked that, so far, but it isn’t stopping nations like China unilaterally easing limits on trade.
China has long been North Korea’s main trading partner, and while that trade ground to a halt earlier this year, a lot of it shows signs of picking up. Reports have China reopening coal trade, restarting frozen construction projects, and again allowing tourists into Pyongyang.
Analysts are suggesting that this “undercuts” US calls to keep escalating sanctions on North Korea, though there is also a case to be made that China is trying to ensure that it retains a major seat at the table if North Korea suddenly becomes an opened market with a lot of trade business.
President Trump has repeatedly complained that China is “not helping” with his efforts on North Korea, and has recently blamed them for lack of progress. China, however, has endorsed North Korea’s efforts to negotiate peace and denuclearize.