Chinese Trade With North Korea Plunged by 50 Percent Last Month

Diplomats from around the world in Vancouver to talk about North Korea's nuclear weapons program

The White House praised China Friday for sharply curtailing trade with North Korea in an effort to force the regime in Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons programs.

While Chinese exports to North Korea increased in 2017 by 8.3 percent, imports slumped 33 percent from the year earlier, Market Watch reports. Beijing has come under growing pressure from Washington to use its influence to stop Pyongyang's weapons development.

China on Friday reported that its trade with North Korea fell 10.5 percent in 2017, compared with the previous year.

In November, China imported no iron ore, coal or lead from North Korea, the second full month of the United Nations trade sanctions.

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After North Korea tested its most powerful nuclear device yet and launched missiles capable of reaching the US, the UN Security Council imposed a series of sanctions restricting oil imports and cutting off about 90 percent of its export revenue.

The two Koreas held their first high-level talks in more than two years this week, leading some to expect an easing of tensions ahead of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next month. The U.S. sees cutting off North Korea's economic ties with China - the country's dominant trading partner - as essential to forcing Kim back to the negotiating table. All told, trade between the two sides fell nearly 51 percent during the month.

North Korea has repeatedly asserted that sanctions are killing its people while claiming that global diplomatic and economic pressure will never derail its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development programs, essentially telling the world that the regime will starve its people before abandoning its weapons of mass destruction.

In November, China stopped exporting oil products to North Korea, after the U.N. Security Council that month imposed new caps on trade with North Korea, including limiting oil product shipments. Imports from the country also plunged 82 percent in December.

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