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Pyongang. Photo: KIM WON-JIN/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese companies have been caught secretly selling oil to North Korea, according to a major South Korean news source and the Financial Times.

  • Why this matters: These reports could mean that China is violating UN sanctions against North Korea. UN Security Council Resolution 2375 — passed in September after yet another nuclear test by Kim Jong-Un — prohibits ship-to-ship transfers of certain goods, including oil, to North Korea.
  • Bill Bishop, author of the Axios China weekly newsletter, emails some quick analysis: "If the Chinese government ignores oil smuggling the sanctions will be less effective. And if the Trump Administration views Beijing as not faithfully implementing what it agreed to then new sanctions against more Chinese individuals and firms, including a major oil company and a large financial institution, are increasingly likely. "

The political backdrop:

  • Trump and other senior U.S. officials have been giving China credit for its "tougher" line against North Korea. Persuading President Xi to crack down on Kim Jong-Un has been the Trump Administration's main strategy for dealing with the nuclear threat from Pyongyang.
  • It was only yesterday that Reuters reported — citing Chinese customs data — that "China exported no oil products to North Korea in November."
  • But North Korea analysts who've watched Beijing's interactions with its economically-dependent neighbor over many years have remained skeptical amid these optimistic reports. (China has historically done the bare minimum to convince the U.S. that it's "getting tough" with North Korea, only to continue propping up the rogue regime.)

Go deeper

Ohio sues Biden admin over reversal of Trump-era abortion referral ban

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. Photo: Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration Monday over a Trump-era ban on abortion referrals that President Biden overturned earlier this month.

The big picture: The lawsuit aims to reinstate two measures included in the 2019 legislation that required federally funded family planning clinics to be "financially independent of abortion clinics," and refrain from referring patients for abortions.

Oklahoma Supreme Court temporarily blocks abortion restrictions

A pro-choice activist demonstrates outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 4, 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked three abortion restrictions set to take effect on Nov. 1.

Why it matters: The laws would place new limits on medication-induced abortions and require doctors who perform abortions to attain board certification in obstetrics and gynecology.

U.S. freezes aid to Sudan over military coup

Protesting the coup in Khartoum. Photo: AFP via Getty

The Biden administration froze a $700 million aid package to Sudan after a military coup on Monday threatened to end the country's transition toward democracy.

Driving the news: At least three protesters have been killed and dozens wounded in the chaotic scenes that followed the announcements from Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan's ruling council, dissolving the government and declaring a state of emergency.