◆ Protesting against China, the main culprit behind economic sanctions

Since Kim Jong-un visited China for the first time in March, 2018, however, the North Korean authorities have refrained from criticizing China. In addition, orders were made by the People’s Committee to “correct bad attitudes toward China” and to “not treat visitors from China badly.” These efforts may prove difficult, however, as the regime tries to reverse the anti-Chinese sentiment that it had, itself, previously engineered.

Currently, North Koreans are suffering across the country from the impact of economic sanctions brought forth by the international community. Though led by the United States and dictated by the U.N. Security Council, it is China, previously responsible for 90% of North Korea’s trade, that has been largely responsible for the sanctions’ implementation.

Kim Jong-un visited China 4 times between March of last year and this January. Despite this, there has been no indication that economic sanctions will be eased. Rather, pressure by China has been growing since the beginning of the year, as the state focuses on strengthening customs inspections and cracking down on smuggling at the border.

North Korean officials and ordinary citizens alike are well aware of the direct cause of their worsened livelihoods and the economic recession, blaming China’s decision to halt imports from the North.

Upon hearing of President Xi’s decision to visit North Korea, ASIAPRESS asked several of its contacts in the North about their feelings toward China.

One reporting partner replied, “Rather than the pressure placed on us by the United States, there is more opposition to China’s tactful decision to continue implementing sanctions. Most people think that China looks down on us even though we are their ally.”

Xi Jinping’s visit to North Korea is not likely to ease sanctions any time soon. Even if China decides to provide aid, it cannot supply anything beyond the constraints of the sanctions. As things stand, only supplies of food, medicine, and electricity are possible.

Still, most North Koreans welcome Xi Jinping’s visit to the North and anticipate some results from it. If the visit does not lead to any improvements in the economy, however, the people will be left with a strong sense of disappointment, which will ultimately be directed at Kim Jong-un. (ISHIMARU Jiro)

Editor’s notes on North Korean reporters

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