While confirming to the world that the country is battling a COVID-19 flare-up, North Korea allegedly stopped importing pandemic supplies from China last month.
As Chinese media Da Ji Yuan reported, customs data released by the Chinese regime on June 20 showed that North Korea did not import any masks, thermometers, rubber gloves, ventilators, or vaccines from the country in May.
Yet, North Korea purchased more than 10.6 million masks in the previous four months, nearly 95,000 thermometers, and 1,000 ventilators from China.
In mid-May, North Korea opened to the world that it was battling a Covid-19 outbreak, reflecting a report by Reuters in late May that Pyongyang may have stockpiled supplies from China before officially declaring its pandemic situation.
Separately, trade data released by Beijing in May showed that China exported $311,000 worth of unspecified vaccines to North Korea in February.
Generally, Chinese shipments to North Korea decreased by 85.2%, from $98 million in April to only $14.5 million in May. The main export commodities were soybeans, sugar, soybean meal, and wheat flour.
In May, North Korea spent almost $3 million on soybeans, $2.6 million on sugar, $1.5 million on soybean meal, and $846.6 million on wheat flour from China.
The secretive regime employed strict pandemic prevention methods in January 2020. When news of the pandemic came out, it suspended all trade. On April 29, Yonhap News Agency said that freight trains between Dandong, China, and Sinuiju, North Korea, had been suspended.
On June 20, Radio Free Asia reported satellite images that showed marketplaces in the North were dreary during this year’s Covid-19 outburst. The outlet noted that there were fewer items to sell in marketplaces because there were fewer foreign commodities to trade.
According to the Chinese edition of German media Deutsche Welle, North Korean state media are reporting falling cases. The country has recorded over 10,000 new fever cases per day, totaling 4.7 million cases to date. However, only 73 deaths have been confirmed, causing many to be skeptical of the figures.