Trade data out of China

Sanctions are fine, but what about the Chinese who depend on trade with North Korea?

United States president Donald Trump has criticized China's ties with the North Korean government, saying its economic interests undermined its ability to challenge president Kim Jong-un's totalitarian rule.

Iron ore is among China's biggest imports from the North after it stopped buying coal this year due to the sanctions.

Notably, the total volume of imports and exports between China and North Korea also increased - by 10.5 percent year-on-year.

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"Trade between China and North Korea grew nearly 40% in the first quarter", Trump tweeted the day after North Korea launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile.

China's trade with North Korea, which is subject to strict worldwide sanctions linked to its ongoing nuclear weapons program, rose more than 10% in the first half of this year, a customs official said, to just over $2.5 billion, with exports rising 29.1%.

While Beijing is North Korea's longtime ally in the region, the state has voiced frustration with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's aggressive behavior.

China, the world's largest coal buyer, imported 21.6 million tonnes of coal in June, down from a month ago, preliminary customs data showed on Thursday.

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"We hope all relevant sides can make sure that they are clear that Security Council sanctions imposed on North Korea are not comprehensive economic sanctions", Shuang said.

He said Chinese imports from the North fell 36.5 percent in March, 41.6 percent in April and 31.6 percent in May.

While China's exports were likely to remain strong, "we are sceptical that the current pace of imports can be sustained for much longer given the increasing headwinds to China's economy from policy tightening", said Julian-Evans Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

In March of previous year, China agreed to enforce United Nations sanctions after North Korea launched a missile with potential nuclear capabilities.

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Though Trump took a more conciliatory tone on the North Korea issue and China's role at a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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