China defends imports of North Korean iron ore

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"Trade between China and North Korea grew nearly 40 per cent in the first quarter".

China's first-half trade with North Korea rose 10.5 per cent year-on-year, Chinese officials said on Thursday, as the USA urged Beijing to apply economic pressure on its neighbour. Iron ore is among China's biggest imports from the North after it stopped buying coal this year due to the sanctions.

Shuang argued that iron ore and some other purchases are allowed under the sanctions, adding that they do not aid the state's nuclear development program, the AP reported. "We hope all relevant sides can make sure that they are clear that Security Council sanctions imposed on North Korea are not comprehensive economic sanctions".

Almost all defectors to the South first stop in China, as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) from the Republic of Korea (ROK) is one of the most fortified places in the world.

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President Donald Trump last week criticized China for its ties with North Korea's government following the launch of a test missile, saying that China's economic interests undermined its ability to challenge President Kim Jong-un's totalitarian regime.

Chinese customs spokesman Huang Songping told a briefing on China's overall trade figures that total trade with North Korea expanded by 10.5 percent to $2.55bn in the first six months of the year.

He said Chinese imports from the North fell 36.5 percent in March, 41.6 percent in April and 31.6 percent in May.

In March of previous year, China agreed to enforce United Nations sanctions after North Korea launched a missile with potential nuclear capabilities.

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"The world is very concerned about the escalation in terms of the threat" posed by North Korea, she said.

"The US continues to look at those as ways to try to shut down the money that is illegally going to North Korea, that we believe - we firmly believe - that it goes to fund its illegal weapons programs".

Though Trump took a more conciliatory tone on the North Korea issue and China's role at a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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