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China's balancing act on North Korea unloved in Pyongyang

09 May 2017

Furious Malaysian leaders recalled their ambassador from Pyongyang, expelled North Korea's ambassador in Kuala Lumpur and ended an arrangement in which North Koreans could enter Malaysia without first obtaining a visa.

The bill also makes clear that anyone found using slave labor from North Korea would be subject to sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

North Korea frequently lambasts the United States and South Korea, but its accusation Friday was unusual in its detail.

Although China has publicly distanced itself from Pyongyang and insists it has halted coal imports, some experts believe the two countries are still trading through the "livelihood purposes" clause that allows trade to ensure the survival of the North Korean people.

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The North Korean statement comes during a period of tension on the Korean Peninsula over concerns that the North is preparing another nuclear test or missile launch, including a possible test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

North Korea on Wednesday reiterated its stance of sticking to nuclear weapons development, a slap in the face for China.

The latest measures will now go to Senate to be ratified.

The bill bars vessels owned by North Korea or by countries that refuse to comply with United Nations resolutions against the regime from operating in American waters or docking at USA ports. "That is what the high-level defectors that I meet with say".

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides field guidance at the construction site of Ryomyong Street in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on March 16, 2017. "This bill gives the administration a powerful tool to cut off North Korea's funding by going after those who do business with the regime", he added.

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Now, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has urged ASEAN foreign ministers to "minimise" diplomatic and other ties with North Korea to ensure "leak-proof" enforcement of global sanctions against the country.

On April 14, North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister said : "We've got a powerful nuclear deterrent already in our hands, and we certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a United States pre-emptive strike".

Briefing reporters on the back of Tillerson's first meeting with all members of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Patrick Murphy, US deputy assistant secretary of state to east Asia, said: "We are communicating with all countries to implement the U.N. Security Council resolutions and, most importantly, deny North Korea the revenue streams it has used to advance its provocative programs".

Tensions between the USA and North Korea have risen sharply in recent weeks after a series of ballistic missile tests, prompting dire warnings from the Trump administration over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

Pyongyang suspects those military drills to be a rehearsal for an invasion or a "decapitation strike" against the North Korean leadership.

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