China says upholds United Nations sanctions as North Korea trade rises

China says upholds United Nations sanctions as North Korea trade rises

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.

China insisted Thursday it was upholding UN sanctions on North Korea despite a jump in its trade with the nuclear-armed nation that comes amid growing USA calls for Beijing to rein in its neighbour.

The rise in trade was driven by a 29.1% increase in exports from a year earlier, while imports fell 13.2%, said Huang Songping, spokesman for the General Administration of Customs, at a briefing Thursday.

All coal imports from North Korea happened before Feb 18, and "this is a sign of China's implementing the UNSC resolutions", Huang said.

Frustrated that China has not done more to rein in North Korea, the Trump administration could impose new sanctions on small Chinese banks and other firms doing business with Pyongyang within weeks, two senior US officials said.

Chinese officials insist that trading relations are on a downward trend.

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. But Huang said the total trade figure in the first six months was US$2.55 billion, an increase of 10.5 percent.

UN Security Council Resolution 2270, approved in March 2016, included a ban on all exports of materials like coal, iron and iron ore from North Korea. They slid 41.6 percent in April, 31.6 percent in May and 28.9 percent in June.

US President Donald Trump claimed in a tweet this month that China-North Korea trade in the first quarter "grew nearly 40 percent".

Cui Tiankai, China's ambassador to Washington, said Monday that secondary sanctions were "not acceptable".

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