China's August trade with North Korea surges after United Nations sanctions

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Earlier on Saturday, China said it will limit exports of refined petroleum products from October 1 and ban exports of condensates and liquefied natural gas immediately to comply with the latest United Nations sanctions.

The current size of Chinese energy supplies to the North and how much that would be reduced were unclear.

Starting Saturday, Beijing is also halting the exports of liquefied natural gas and gas condensate.

U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that Beijing told its banks to stop dealing with North Korea is "not consistent with the facts", a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Friday, but he gave no indication what steps China might be taking.

China has always been the North's only major ally and diplomatic protector but is expressing increasing frustration with the government of Kim Jong Un.

The news agency observed that considering the account freeze is certain to deal a great blow to the North Korean economy, China may have shifted to a policy of stronger pressure on the North as the regime continues its missile and nuclear development despite Beijing's call for restraint.

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They have supported the latest rounds of UN Security Council sanctions but are reluctant to push Pyongyang too hard for fear the government might collapse.

Also Thursday, Trump issued an executive order expanding the Treasury Department's ability to target anyone conducting significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea and to ban them from the US financial system.

China's ambassador to the United States has called on Washington to stop making continuous threats over North Korea and "do more" to build bridges of understanding and negotiation instead.

Also on Friday, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said his country could consider a hydrogen bomb test on an unprecedented scale on the Pacific Ocean - a threat, Japan labelled as "totally unacceptable".

Trump praised China on Thursday for what he said was instructions to its banks to cut off business with North Korea. The council has told member countries to ban most activity overseas by North Korea's banks in response to its nuclear and missile tests.

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