China says trade with North Korea rose 10.5pc in first half

China says trade with North Korea rose 10.5pc in first half

China says trade with North Korea rose 10.5pc in first half

China's trade with North Korea rose more than 10 percent during the first half of the year despite pressure from the United States for Beijing to put further pressure on its troublesome neighbor. "It's not like, oh, gee, you just do whatever we say", Trump said.

The U.S. measures would first hit Chinese businesses considered "low-hanging fruit", including smaller financial institutions and "shell" companies linked to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, the report said.

Sino-US relations have soured in recent weeks as President Donald Trump has urged Beijing to step up diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea over its nuclear ambitions.

Adding to the potential for further US China trade friction, China had a $25.4bn trade surplus with the US in June, up from $22.0bn in May, customs data showed.

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He said imports from North Korea have fallen for the past four months and all coal imports were made in the first two months of the year, before China suspended coal purchases from Pyongyang.

China said in February it would suspend coal imports from North Korea, potentially cutting off a major financial lifeline for Pyongyang, although analysts caution that Chinese figures should be viewed with some skepticism as they are sometimes manipulated for political purposes.

Beijing was quick to pour cold water on the suggestion that the overall rise in trade suggested it was not complying with U.N. Security Council resolutions created to punish Pyongyang for its nuclear tests and missile launches. Previous releases of Chinese customs data showed that China bought the same amount of iron ore in the first five months of this year as it did in all of last year.

Whether the new penalties are put in place will depend on how a high-level economic meeting between US and Chinese officials in Washington next week goes and on how China responds to USA pressure on Pyongyang, according to Reuters.

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China insists none of its current trade with Pyongyang is in violation of worldwide sanctions.

President Trump has been putting enormous pressure on his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to take action against Kim Jong-un.

Noticing their strengthening trade relations last week, Mr Trump tweeted: "Trade between China and North Korea grew nearly 40 per cent in the first quarter".

But Beijing is also eager to avoid riling Trump.

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The Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, also reaffirmed Beijing's commitment to the United Nations sanctions.

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