Okay, so the Strategic and Economic Dialogue did not produce any earth-shattering policy pronouncements, but we shouldn’t have expected any, as I mentioned in this TNR piece. This is the first sit-down, and the very broad scope of it — as well as the number of high-level officials involved — was in and of itself useful in setting the tone of the U.S.-China relationship going forward.
While nothing much happened in DC, perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the very first time China has publically enforced sanctions against North Korea was happening at the same time.
From a Korean newspaper account, pointed out by the Nelson report, comes this:
Chinese customs authorities confiscated 70 kg of vanadium that North Korea tried to smuggle through China. Vanadium has defense and nuclear uses — alloys containing vanadium are used in missile casings — but it was not clear what the stash was to be used for.
Dandong News, a newspaper from the Chinese-North Korean border city of Dandong in Liaoning Province, on Tuesday said the local customs office seized vanadium hidden in six fruit boxes from a truck heading to North Korea last Saturday. The confiscated material was contained in 68 bottles hidden among fruit and is worth 200,000 yuan, it said.
Vanadium is resistant to corrosion by sulfuric and hydrochloric acid and strengthens steel. It is alloyed with steel to make jet engines, missile casings and superconducting magnets.
This is a fairly big deal. China has voted for sanctions before, but enforcing them — and doing so publically — is new. Beijing is clearly trying to get Pyongyang’s attention.
– Nina Hachigian