China time and again has flouted economic sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council against North Korea to punish Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile programs.
In more than half of all instances, China was the culprit, according to a report by a panel of experts trying to track whether members are adhering to the punitive measures outlined in U.N. resolutions.
Of 38 suspected cases of transactions with North Korea involving weapons and luxury items, China was involved in 21.
The report covers panel investigations over the past 30 months or so. The last report to be released was for 2010.
Reports for 2011 and 2012 have already been compiled, but not released. However, The Asahi Shimbun obtained copies.
The reports show that Beijing, Pyongyang's stalwart ally, helped North Korea ramp up its ability to pose a military threat and engage in weapons proliferation.
According to U.N. Security Council sources, China until now had done its best to keep the reports under wraps.
However, it recently agreed to the release of the 2012 report, which is expected to be issued in the coming week.
A Japanese government source said June 21 that China may have had a change of heart because of an uproar in the international community over recent revelations that it was involved in the export of large military transport vehicles to North Korea in August 2011.
Of the 21 cases in which Chinese involvement is suspected, two concern trade by North Korea of materials related to weapons of mass destruction or ballistic missiles. Six cases involve trade in weapons and the remaining 13 cases concern imports by North Korea of luxury items for the elite.
Almost all of the cases involve a Chinese port serving as a transit point or a Chinese company working as an intermediary for trade with North Korea.
In 11 of the cases, Dalian port in northeastern China was used for shipments.
The Asahi Shimbun scooped its competitors last week with a report on large military transport vehicles capable of carrying and launching ballistic missiles being exported from China to Nampho in western North Korea. The company that handled the shipment was Wuhan Sanjiang Import and Export Co.
The panel report to be released does not mention Chinese involvement because it says the case is still undr investigation.
However, a Japanese government source suggested that Chinese involvement could be spelled out in an interim report set for release in November.
One of the two cases involving trade of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles concerns a shipment from North Korea to Syria via Dalian in 2007. The cargo of sensitive electronic components and metal sheets is believed to have been used for the manufacture of ballistic missiles.
The other case occurred in 2010 when machine tools capable of being converted for military use were exported to North Korea from Taiwan via China.
According to a U.N. source, a Chinese member of the panel did not offer any information to detract from the seriousness of the allegations. The individual also refused point-blank to allow investigations into Chinese ports.
(This article was written by Yoshiaki Kasuga in New York and Yoshihiro Makino in Tokyo.)
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