ReutersWASHINGTON (Reuters) — China’s ambassador to the United States has said reports of trade growth between his country and North Korea, in spite of international efforts to press Pyongyang to give up its nuclear and missile programs, give “a distorted picture.”
Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump denounced China’s trade with North Korea, saying it had grown almost 40 percent in the first quarter, and cast doubt on whether Beijing was helping to counter the threat from North Korea.
Data released in April showed China’s trade with North Korea grew 37.4 percent year on year in the first quarter, in spite of a ban on coal imports China announced in February.
“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.
Cui said bilateral trade declined in 2015 and 2016, and Chinese imports from North Korea dropped by 41 percent in April and 32 percent in May as a result of the coal import ban.
At the same time, Cui stressed that U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea did not constitute an embargo. “Normal trade ... is not banned by these sanctions,” he said.
The Chinese embassy released Cui’s speech, originally delivered in an off-the-record setting, on Tuesday. He said China backed further U.N. action against North Korea for violations of U.N. resolutions such as nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles.Speech