China has stepped up its efforts to supply food to North Korea.
Food aid to this “hermit state” is permitted under the terms of the sanctions imposed by United Nations. For solid humanitarian reasons.
According to an article in the South China Morning Post on July 21, 2017, North Korea is in the midst of the worst drought since 2001.
The reason for food aid
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi explained the reason for China’s food aid, “China will pay the biggest price from the new United Nations sanctions against North Korea because of its close economic relationship with the country, but will always enforce the resolutions.”
Vincent Martin, a representative for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said this year’s lack of rain could cause “a sharp deterioration in food security conditions of a large part of the population.... Immediate interventions are needed to support affected farmers and prevent undesirable coping strategies for the most vulnerable, such as reducing daily food intakes.”
The extent of need
The South China Morning Post reports, “North Korea has had an ongoing food crisis since a serious famine back in the 1990s. Two in five citizens are undernourished and more than 70 per cent of the population relies on food aid, according to United Nations. A UN report in March said, an estimated 18 million people across North Korea continue to suffer from food insecurity and malnutrition, as well as a lack of basic services.”
Unfortunately, China’s food aid does not seem to reach those 18 million people. Justin Hastings, an expert in Chinese-North Korean trade who teaches at the University of Sydney, believes that China’s food aid is “going to the military and the elites in Pyongyang .... [The] people in the hinterlands are still going hungry.”