China trading more with North Korea but buying less coal

Oceane Deschanel
Julho 16, 2017

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the Korean Peninsula is one of the most heavily fortified places in the world, and nearly all defectors to the South go to China first - where they still risk being repatriated if caught - and then on to a third country before traveling to the South.

China, North Korea's most important economic partner, has been increasing restrictions against North Korean activity in the country.

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.

He pointed to a 13.2 percent drop in imports from North Korea in the same period as an example of the pressure, adding that there have been sharp decreases every month since March. "Simple accumulated data can not be used as evidence to question China's severe attitude in carrying out UN Security Council resolutions", Huang told a news briefing.

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China announced in February the suspension of coal imports from the North, striking a blow at a major source of income for the hermit state.

But foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said United Nations resolution 2321 allows imports of iron and iron ore if the income is for the livelihood of civilians.

In April, China positioned 150,000 troops along their much larger border with North Korea last week, as well as sending a fleet of fully-loaded cargo ships destined for North Korea back home.

North Korea bought $1.67 billion worth of Chinese products in the first six months of the year, which helped push total trade between the two countries up 10 percent between January and June.

The latest potential measures could also be posturing prior to next week's meetings, given Trump's tweet following his meeting with Xi at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany over the weekend.

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