Chinese fisheries officials under investigation for corruption in city linked to North Korean IUU
Two senior Chinese fisheries officials are facing corruption charges in a city on the border between China and North Korea, which has previously been linked to illegal fishing.
The head of the Ocean and Fisheries Bureau in Dandong, a port city which sits at the exit of the Yalu River into the East China Sea, is being vetted by the Communist Party’s internal disciplinary arm for corruption.
Nie Hong Sheng, who had spent over two decades in various government roles relating to fisheries management, was responsible for licensing vessels and regulating seafood sales in the city.
Also under investigation is Shan Jun, deputy head of the fishing vessels affairs service center in Dandong, a city at the heart of illegal fishing allegations involving both Chinese fishing firms and the North Korean state.
A report this summer by the France 24 television station detailed how North Korean agents in Dandong were illegally selling fishing licenses to Chinese boats, in violation of UN sanctions, as a means to raise hard currency for the North Korean regime.
A statement from the Dandong branch of the Disciplinary Inspection Commission – which effectively operates above the police system to detain and investigate Communist Party officials – said Nie and Shan were guilty of “major disciplinary faults.” The two men are currently “undergoing investigation,” according to the Disciplinary Inspection Commission.
One of the men, Shan, had been serving as “leader of the punishment team” of the enforcement squad established by his office to police the annual East China Sea summer fishing moratorium locally.
Chinese trawlers have been accused of overfishing North Korean waters, and Russian authorities have accused rogue North Korea trawlers of poaching in its waters. Armed clashes between the Russian coast guard and North Korean trawlers resulted in the jailing this summer of North Koreans who, as detailed in the France 24 investigation, operate in giant flotillas of smaller wooden boats attached to larger steel hulled trawlers.
The state’s iron grip on the fisheries sector allows China to take action on issue like the fishing moratorium, but also restricts non-governmental efforts and independent investigation of malfeasance by officials.
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