The UN Security Council on Monday unanimously passed a US-drafted resolution that imposes strongest sanctions ever on North Korea, including restricting its oil imports and banning textile exports, to curb the reclusive nation's nuclear programme.
"The US and its allies Japan and South Korea hope to suffocate North Korea and overturn its regime through economic and military pressure, but this will not work because China and Russia will not accept this, as it will affect their national interests and jeopardise the regional strategic balance," Lu Chao, a Chinese expert on Korean studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted as saying by the state-run Global Times.
Reports from China-North Korean border said China has amassed troops to prepare for any eventuality and even held periodic exercises envisaging different scenarios.
Though critical of North Korea's nuclear tests, China regards it as a buffer state and close-ally.
"Oil exports to North Korea will drop by nearly 40 per cent, a huge blow to its energy supply," Mr Lu said, reacting to the new round of sanctions by the UN following North Korea's hydrogen bomb test.
An oil pipeline that supplies 90 per cent of North Korea's crude has been excluded from the latest UN sanctions against Pyongyang in part for one very practical reason: once China turns it off, it can't be easily turned back on again, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post said today.
The Dandong-Sinuiju pipeline connecting both the countries, delivers more than half a million tonnes of crude oil to North Korea a year. Yet the supplies were explicitly excluded from the resolution passed by the UN Security Council on Monday in response to Pyongyang's sixth nuclear test.
The exemption reflected Beijing's unwillingness to drive Pyongyang to even greater desperation, experts said.
Liu Ming, a North Korean affairs analyst from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said technical factors with the pipeline were real and "could not be ignored".
"The crude oil transported via the Dandong-Sinuiju pipeline contains a high proportion of wax. If the flow of oil slows or stops, the pipeline becomes blocked, which in turn is expensive to repair. The pipeline can even be damaged beyond repair in extreme cases," Mr Liu told the Post.
The pipeline, also called the Friendship Oil Pipeline, runs for more than 30 km from storage facilities in the Chinese border city of Dandong to an oil depot in Sinuiju in North Korea.
The UN has banned textile imports, including fabrics and partially completed apparel, beginning 90 days from the adoption of the resolution.
"North Korea will lose USD 700 million to USD 800 million a year from the textile ban. And it will also affect some Chinese and foreign companies in Shanghai as well as border cities since they offer materials to North Korean companies for processing," Jin Qiangyi, director of Yanbian University's Asia Research Centre was quoted by the report.
Reports also said Chinese banks have started imposing restrictions on North Korean accounts and transactions.
Data from China's General Administration of Customs show that North Korea exported USD 260 million in textile products to China from January to July, or 44 per cent of its total exports to China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang yesterday said that while Beijing is calling for complete implementation of the latest UN resolution on Pyongyang, it will never allow war or chaos in the Korean Peninsula.