China said in February it would suspend coal imports from North Korea, potentially cutting off a major financial lifeline for Pyongyang, although analysts caution that Chinese figures should be viewed with some skepticism as they are sometimes manipulated for political purposes.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has attended a pop concert hailing the successful launch of his country's first intercontinental ballistic missile. "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 news briefing.
However, it was not held at the time, he said.
While China's imports from North Korea dropped 13.2 percent to $880 million in the period from January to June, exports to North Korea rose 29.1 percent to $1.67 billion, he said.
But customs administration spokesman Huang Songping said Beijing was upholding the United Nations sanctions against the regime of Kim Jong-Un.
Trade between China and North Korea has declined in both 2015 and 2016, a senior government-backed academic said in a front-page comment in the overseas edition of the official People's Daily on Wednesday.
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"If Trump were to give up on Chinese support in terms of containing North Korea, then there's a risk of increased trade tensions between the USA and China, which could negatively impact China's overall export performance", said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics. Previous Chinese customs data showed two-way trade with the North had risen 30.6 percent in dollar terms in the first three months of the year.
"For China to maintain normal economic relations with North Korea does not violate United Nations resolutions", he told a daily news briefing.
The latest official trade numbers from Beijing suggest that China, as President Trump tweeted last week, is not using its economic leverage over its defiant neighbor.
Reuters heard from two senior usa officials that are working to propose sanctions to "initially hit Chinese entities considered "low-hanging fruit, ' including smaller financial institutions and 'shell" companies linked to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs", but would also "leave larger Chinese banks untouched for now".
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.
A bipartisan group of five top Senators have introduced a legislation which if passed, would ban any entity that does business with North Korea or its enablers, from using the USA financial system.