China announced Saturday that it will limit oil exports to North Korea under U.N. sanctions over its nuclear and missile development, further reducing support from Pyongyang’s last major trading partner, energy supplier and diplomatically.
Exports of refined petroleum to the North will be limited to 2 million barrels per year and sales of liquefied natural gas banned outright, effective Jan. 1, the Commerce Ministry said. China doesn’t disclose details of the trade with the isolated North, so it was not immediately clear how large the possible reduction might be.
China also will ban textile imports from the North, the ministry said. Textiles are one of the North’s last major sources of foreign revenue following repeated rounds of U.N. sanctions under which Beijing cut off purchases of coal, iron ore, seafood and other goods.
China accounts for some 90 percent of the North’s trade, making its cooperation critical to any efforts to derail Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
Chinese leaders were long the North’s diplomatic protectors but express increasing frustration with the government of Kim Jong Un. They have supported the latest rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions but are reluctant to push Pyongyang too hard for fear the government might collapse. They also argue against doing anything that might hurt ordinary North Koreans.
Petroleum exports for use in the North’s ballistic missile program or other activities are banned by U.N. sanctions, the Commerce Ministry said.