China defends imports of North Korean iron ore

Aaron Brown
July 14, 2017

China's consistent USA trade surplus levels have left it vulnerable to accusations of currency manipulation, particularly given the fact that the yuan fell 6.6% against the dollar past year, its biggest decline since 1994.

Washington says the exercises are needed to maintain defenses against North Korea and US officials say Beijing could face USA economic and trade pressure unless it does more to rein in North Korea.

China announced in February the suspension of coal imports from the North, striking a blow at a major source of income for the hermit state.

Exports in yuan terms rose 17.3 percent year on year to 1.35 trillion yuan (US$199 billion) in June, compared with May's 15.1 percent increase, data from the General Administration of Customs revealed. Beijing agreed in March 2016 to enforce United Nations sanctions following North Korea's test of a missile possibly capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Tensions rose after North Korea's test this month of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the USA mainland.

"We still expect export growth to slow in the second half of 2017 on stronger RMB (yuan) so far this year and uncertainties in external demand", said Yang Zhao, chief China economist at Nomura.

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"Simple accumulated data can not be used as evidence to question China's severe attitude in carrying out UN Security Council resolutions", Huang told a press briefing.

Monthly figures were more representative of the trend and China's imports from North Korea had been "falling sharply for four consecutive months since March", he said, including by 36 percent in March and 42 percent in April.

"Trade between China and North Korea grew nearly 40 per cent in the first quarter".

"Trade related to the people's livelihood in the North Korea, especially those that embody humanitarian principles, should not be affected by sanctions".

"This is a distorted picture", China's ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, said in a speech to a Washington think tank on Monday. "So much for China working with us - but we had to give it a try", Trump said in tweet last week.

But many North Korea analysts suggest China will not take any action that could seriously undermine the regime because Beijing's top priority is stability.

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