China trading more with North Korea but buying less coal

Bruno Cirelli
Luglio 16, 2017

China has insisted that it is committed to enforcing United Nations sanctions against North Korea, even though its own figures show that trade between the two countries increased by more than 10 per cent.

The text calls for kicking out from the USA banking system the businesses and financial institutions involved in a significant amount of trade in goods and services with the communist state, barring all North Korean-made products from entering the U.S. market, and sanctioning all firms engaged in labor exports.

The news comes as the Trump administration continues to call on Beijing to use its economic leverage over Kim Jong Un's regime.

That increase "cannot be used as evidence questioning China's seriousness in fulfilling UNSC resolutions", Huang said.

"My bipartisan legislation gives those that now conduct trade with North Korea a clear choice - either do business with this heinous outlaw regime or do business with the world's leading economic and military power", he added.

But coal imports slumped by 75%, suggesting Beijing is gradually choking off North Korea's biggest source of foreign currency.

The decline follows China's decision in February to ban all imports of North Korean coal.

At the same time, iron ore imports have surged between January and May to $74.4 million compared to $24 million over the same period past year. "It has nothing to do with creating income for DPRK nuclear programmes, so it is not on the sanctions list", Geng told a regular news briefing.

Notably, China Customs said its first-half coal and iron ore imports from North Korea were in line with U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The White House took swift action after seeing that a strategy of persuasion wasn't working - approving a long-delayed arms sales package to Taiwan, sending in a pair of freedom of navigation operations to challenge Beijing's territorial claims in the heavily contested South China Sea, and imposing an initial round of secondary sanctions, which targeted a few individuals and companies with financial ties to Pyongyang.

Trump acknowledged as much at a July 12 press availability held aboard Air Force One on the way to France to celebrate Bastille Day.

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