China reports surge in exports to North Korea

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President Trump has repeatedly criticized China over its trade with North Korea, calling on it to exert more pressure on Kim Jong-un's regime.

US President Donald Trump has been openly expressing disappointment over China's lukewarm stance in curbing its economic trade with North Korea, which reportedly grew nearly 40 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, raising the possibility for broader secondary sanctions.

He's blasted the Asian superpower and even asked President Xi Jinping face-to-face to take a tougher stance on North Korea's missile and nuclear defense program. They say that they are complying fully with global sanctions, which target sensitive industries and do not amount to a total trade embargo.

"Make no mistake, the Security Council's sanctions on [North Korea] can not be equated with all-encompassing economic sanctions. Trade related to DPRK people's livelihood, especially those that reflect humanitarianism should not be influenced by the sanctions", Huang said.

The decline follows China's decision in February to ban all imports of North Korean coal.

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Huang said coal imports dropped by three-quarters in the first half, and all those shipments had been made before February 18. By comparison, imports of coal alone were worth $97.6 million just in the month of February.

The fresh and potential sanctions could target "low-hanging fruit", or smaller institutions rather than any of China's bigger banks, but the breadth of and when the sanctions are put in place will be contingent on talks between the US and China Wednesday, administration sources told Reuters.

Trump acknowledged as much at a July 12 press availability held aboard Air Force One on the way to France to celebrate Bastille Day.

China is under pressure from the US and others to show it is complying with United Nations sanctions created to put an economic squeeze on Kim's weapons programs.

Exports to North Korea rose 29.1 percent to $1.67 billion during the period, the data showed.

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