China reports surge in exports to North Korea


A Chinese government official said Thursday that China-North Korea trade was worth $2.6 billion in the first half of 2017, up about 10% over the same period past year.

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.

While China's imports from North Korea dropped 13.2 per cent to $880 million in the period from January to June, exports to North Korea rose 29.1 per cent to $1.67 billion, he said.

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Similarly, imports surged 17.2% in June from a year ago, bigger than the expected growth of 14.5%.

China's exports increased at a faster-than-expected pace in June, the General Administration of Customs said Thursday.

The UN and the US have attempted to use sanctions for the past decade in an attempt to stem North Korea's nuclear weapons development, but the latest July 4 test, which demonstrated a significant advance in its capabilities, have forced global bodies to reconsider their response going forward. The data will add to President Trump's demands that President Xi do more to pressure Kim Jong-un into abandoning his nuclear missile programme.

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"So much for China working with us - but we had to give it a try!" he added.

"Trade related to the people's livelihood in the North Korea, especially those that embody humanitarian principles, should not be affected by sanctions".

The overall rise in trade has been driven by China's exports to North Korea, which were up by almost 30% in the first half of the year.

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But Tuesday's initiative met a dismissive reaction from the Arab countries that imposed sanctions on Qatar last month. Qatar has so far denied any wrongdoing.

Tensions rose after North Korea's test this month of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the U.S. mainland.