Caixin
Aug 15, 2017 06:13 PM
ECONOMY

China Bans Key Imports From North Korea

China banned key imports from North Korea starting on Tuesday, choking off one of the isolated nation’s most important sources of foreign currency in response to the latest U.N. sanctions over the country’s nuclear-weapons program.

The bans became effective the day after a joint statement on Monday from China’s Ministry of Commerce and General Administration of Customs. The orders prohibit North Korean iron ore, coal and seafood from entering China, the North’s largest trading partner and biggest source of foreign exchange.

Chinese customs has up to Sept. 4 to process shipments from the North that entered the country before the ban, according to the statement.

China made the move after the imposition of new sanctions by the U.N. in response to a string of missile tests by nuclear-armed North Korea amid growing tensions between the country and the U.S. The North had threatened to fire a missile in the direction of Guam, a U.S. territory midway between Japan and New Guinea, sometime later this month.

The U.S. has tried to pressure China on trade and economic issues to get its support in pressuring North Korea, which counts Beijing as its biggest ally. On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump authorized a probe into China’s alleged theft of intellectual property, a move that could lead to trade sanctions eventually, according to American media.

But such economic and trade issues fall into a different category from political ones, and should be treated separately, said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Given the increasingly converging China-U.S. interests and the close-knit pattern of the two countries being mutually dependent, there will be no future or winner but only losers in a trade war,” she said at a regular media briefing on Monday.

Observers told Caixin that China’s new bans will have a limited impact on North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program. They added their view that no imminent military conflict between U.S. and North Korea was in sight.

“I don’t feel a war is coming,” said Jin Qiangyi, professor at the Center for North and South Korea Studies of Yanbian University in Northeast China’s Jilin province, which lies adjacent to North Korea and is home to a large ethnic-Korean population.

Contact reporter Pan Che (chepan@caixin.com)

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