Monday August 3rd, 2020 6:51PM

US gift to China shows North Korea sanctions go unenforced

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The meeting between acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and his Chinese counterpart began with all the hallmarks of a routine staged and scripted session between two uneasy rivals.

First came the posed photo, as the two men shook hands with broad smiles in front of their nations' flags, and then they moved quickly into the hotel conference room, surrounded by staff. There, Shanahan presented Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe with a gift.

But what at first glance looked like a coffee table book was actually 32 pages of photographs and satellite images of North Korean ships getting and delivering shipments of oil. Many of the photos are stamped with dates, times, locations and descriptions, and, according to officials, represent proof that Pyongyang is violating punishing economic sanctions right off China's coast.

"I gave him this beautiful book," Shanahan said a day after his meeting with Wei and his top staff at a national security conference in Singapore. "I said this is an area where you and I can cooperate."

The pointed message from the acting Pentagon chief comes as the Trump administration is at odds with China over a wide range of issues, including trade, Chinese theft of American technology, the possible sale of U.S. weapons to Taiwan and how to pressure North Korea into giving up its nuclear weapons program.

China agreed to the U.N. sanctions against its ally and neighbor North Korea, but, as the photo book illustrates, appears to be allowing violations to take place.

On one page of the book viewed by The Associated Press, a photo shows the North Korean-flagged oil tanker Kum Un San 3 next to the M/V New Regent, a Panama-flagged tanker, and a number of lines and hoses are draped between the two ships. The photo is dated June 7, 2018.

The U.N., in an October 2018 press release, said the June 7 ship-to-ship transfer was a violation and said it likely involved oil. The U.N. sanctioned the two ships and said they are subject to de-flagging and prohibited from entering U.N. member ports.

Another photo in the book shows the North Korean tanker An San 1, and says it is "offloading refined petroleum" through an undersea pipeline at the terminal in Nampo, near Pyongyang.

Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, a Pentagon spokesman, said Shanahan devised the book to show that enforcement of U.N. sanctions off the Chinese coast is "an area for potential coordination and collaboration" with the Chinese military.

A U.S. defense official said Shanahan had the photographs and information in the book declassified and bound. Shanahan presented the book to Wei at the start of their meeting, saying he had a gift for the minister, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a private meeting. The official said Wei initially appeared taken aback at receiving a gift, but when he realized what it was he quickly turned it over to his staff.

During the meeting, Shanahan told Wei that the U.S. and Chinese navies could work together to prevent such violations of the U.N. sanctions, said the official.

"It's actually very clever," said Bonnie Glaser, director of the China power project at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It's really calling out China. This is a way of telling them that we know what's going on, we have quite a bit of evidence, and here's an opportunity for you to expand cooperation with the United States."

Glaser, who also attended the Singapore conference, said she spoke with members of the China delegation and they described the meeting between Shanahan and Wei as positive and upbeat. No one, she said, mentioned the book.

"I think it was probably embarrassing," she said. "They probably thought they were getting something wonderful, that would highlight something positive, not something calling out China for their failure to step up and crack down on North Korea."

The oil and trade sanctions against North Korea have hurt its already struggling economy, and both Russia and China have called for easing them. China isn't likely to want to openly evade the sanctions and face diplomatic friction with the United States, but more than 90% of North Korea's foreign trade has gone through China.

The U.N. Security Council in March said North Korea was continuing to defy its resolutions through a "massive" increase in ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products and coal. The U.S. Navy has been working with a number of countries, including South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and France, to catch sanctions violations such as ship-to-ship transfers.

Shanahan's meeting with Wei at the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference earlier this month came just the evening before he delivered a speech that denounced China's efforts to steal technology from other nations and militarize man-made outposts in the South China Sea as a "toolkit of coercion." But he also made clear the U.S. wants to work with China on other international issues.

In a brief mention of the book during questions after his conference speech, Shanahan said the two countries must work through their differences.

"Trust is built over time," he said. "Trust is built by working on projects and being shoulder to shoulder. It isn't done by conferences or by policies or by speeches. We need to find areas in which we can grow."

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
US gift to China shows North Korea sanctions go unenforced
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan sat down with his Chinese counterpart during a recent trip to Singapore and presented him with a photo book that was intended as more than a friendly gesture
3:26PM ( 4 minutes ago )
US Catholic bishops convene to confront sex-abuse crisis
US Catholic bishops convene a high-stakes national meeting that will focus on defusing the church's clergy sex-abuse crisis
3:18PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Singer Steve Lawrence says he has Alzheimer's disease
Singer Steve Lawrence has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease
3:10PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
As bishops gather, prosecutors step up scrutiny of church
Attorneys general eyeing U.S. church authorities in growing clergy abuse investigations
2:42PM ( 48 minutes ago )
The Latest: Biden calls Trump a 'threat to our core values'
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is blasting President Trump for his behavior during the D-Day commemoration in Europe last week, including a tweet attacking singer and Broadway star Bette Midler
2:36PM ( 53 minutes ago )
David Ortiz undergoes more surgery in Boston after shooting
Former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is recovering from exploratory surgery in Boston as investigators in his native Dominican Republic try to figure out who shot him and why
2:35PM ( 54 minutes ago )
AP National News
Botswana decriminalizes gay sex in landmark Africa case
Botswana decriminalizes gay sex in landmark Africa case; orientation not a 'fashion statement'
1:42PM ( 1 hour ago )
US resident released from Iran custody says it eases tension
A U.S. permanent resident who was released in Iran following years of imprisonment on charges of espionage said Tuesday that he was subjected to "kidnapping, arbitrary detention and a show trial"
1:36PM ( 1 hour ago )
US says Egypt, Jordan and Morocco to attend peace workshop
A White House official says that Egypt, Jordan and Morocco have confirmed their attendance at U.S. conference this month in Bahrain, where the administration will unveil the economic portion of its plan for Mideast peace
12:52PM ( 2 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Despite FIFA ticket boast, most World Cup games not sold out
FIFA says 14 of 52 Women's World Cup games have sold out, a month after boasting only a "few matches" still had tickets available
2:53PM ( 36 minutes ago )
Thousands of Czechs demand premier, justice minister resign
Thousands of Czechs have rallied to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babis and his new justice minister as protests are intensifying across the country
2:50PM ( 39 minutes ago )
Seen as pro-business, Macron shifts to the left at UN body
French President Emmanuel Macron called for an EU-wide minimum wage and a stepped-up fight against inequality, returning to his left-leaning political roots as critics try to paint him as overly pro-business
2:21PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Stocks fizzle and flatten out at midday after early gains
U.S. stocks gave up early gains and fizzled in midday trading after technology and industrial companies headed lower
12:31PM ( 2 hours ago )
Trump and Biden head to Iowa in a potential 2020 preview
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to visit Iowa, where Biden plans to criticize Trump's economic policy
10:08AM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: White House says Biden threat remark 'laughable'
The White House says Joe Biden's plan to call President Donald Trump an 'existential threat' to the nation is 'truly laughable' as the 2 politicians converge in Iowa
9:23AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Trump, Biden are bound for Iowa in potential 2020 preview
After months of jabbing from afar, President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden will overlap Tuesday in Iowa, critical to both of their political futures
3:42AM ( 11 hours ago )
Facebook is building a massive solar project in Texas
Facebook is building a massive new solar farm in West Texas that's believed to be one of the largest solar projects in the nation
1:10AM ( 14 hours ago )
US stocks climb after US suspends tariffs on Mexican goods
Technology companies and banks helped power stocks higher on Wall Street Monday as investors welcomed news that the U.S. and Mexico averted a trade war and potentially damaging tariffs
5:05PM ( 22 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Protesters burn tires, block roads in Haiti, at least 1 dead
Thousands of protesters denouncing corruption have paralyzed much of the Haitian capital as they demand the removal of President Jovenel Moise
7:31PM ( 1 day ago )
California utility proactively cuts power because of weather
Pacific Gas & Electric has implemented a controversial practice of cutting power to selected portions of Northern California to guard against wildfires as the weather turns very windy, dry and hot
12:31AM ( 2 days ago )
House panel highlights risks over nuclear-storage stalemate
Members of Congress say America's long stalemate over where to put its nuclear waste needs to end _ and as soon as possible
10:04PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Business - Utilities
US Catholic bishops convene to confront sex-abuse crisis
US Catholic bishops convene a high-stakes national meeting that will focus on defusing the church's clergy sex-abuse crisis
3:18PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Singer Steve Lawrence says he has Alzheimer's disease
Singer Steve Lawrence has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease
3:10PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Trump, Biden trade insults during dueling Iowa visits
Biden, Trump swap insults in dueling visits to Iowa
3:05PM ( 25 minutes ago )
AP sources: Trump Jr. to speak with Senate panel Wednesday
President Donald Trump's eldest son will meet with the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday behind closed doors, according to a person familiar with the meeting
3:05PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Student convicted of campus attack accused in 2 more cases
A student who remained at West Virginia's Marshall University despite a conviction for a 2016 attack against a female student on campus is now facing charges of assaulting two more women
3:01PM ( 29 minutes ago )