China bans imports from N. Korea

China will halt iron, iron ore and seafood imports from North Korea starting 15 August 2017, following through on new UN sanctions after U.S. pressure for Beijing to strong arm Pyongyang over its ally’s nuclear programme. The decision was announced on 14 August 2017 after days of increasingly bellicose rhetoric between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un’s regime, which has raised international alarm about where the crisis is headed.

Beijing had pledged to fully enforce the latest sanctions after the United States accused China of not doing enough to rein in its neighbour, which relies heavily on the Asian giant for its economic survival. The Chinese Commerce Ministry said on its website that all imports of coal, iron, iron ore and seafood will be “completely prohibited: from 15 August 2017. Beijing had already announced a suspension of coal imports in February.

The United Nations Security Council, including permanent member Beijing, approved tough sanctions against Pyongyang on August 6 that could cost the country $1 billion a year. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi vowed after the UN sanctions were approved that his country “will for sure implement that new resolution 100 percent, fully and strictly”.

China, which is suspected of failing to enforce past UN measures, accounts for 90% of North Korea’s trade. Among the latest banned products, China imported $74.4 million worth of iron ore in the first five months of this year, almost equalling the figure for all of 2016. Fish and seafood imports totalled $46.7 million in June, up from $13.6 million in May.

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