Sept. 5 (UPI) — China’s hesitation to cut off North Korea‘s oil supply may be attributed to reasons that go beyond fears of regime collapse and a flood of refugees at the border.
Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun reported Tuesday China might have more immediate economic reasons to avoid an oil embargo on North Korea, which receives 90 percent of its oil imports from the world’s second-largest economy.
Those reasons include the fact the crude oil China supplies to North Korea contains “a lot of paraffin,” the same raw material used to manufacture candles, according to the report.
If the 20-mile Friendship Pipeline connecting China and North Korea ceases operation, the waxy substance could clog the system, creating a headache for engineers on both sides.
The Friendship Pipeline in Dandong, China, delivers 500,000 tons of crude oil to North Korea annually.
Another reason an oil embargo may be out of the question for China is the impact it could have on China-North Korea relations, according to the Sankei.
In a worst-case scenario, the Kim Jong Un regime could retaliate and even launch a missile in China’s direction, the newspaper stated.
Pyongyang has so far launched most of its missiles in the direction of Japan and Japan-claimed waters.
China is also competing with Russia, which has nearly doubled its oil exports to the relatively isolated state, from 2,271 tons of oil in the first half of 2016, to 4,304 tons in 2017.
During the BRICs summit in Beijing on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said diplomacy was the only way to resolve the North Korea crisis and added any sanctions would be “useless and ineffective,” CNN reported.