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China Posts Double-digit Trade Increase with N. Korea in First Half of 2017

FILE - Trucks move across the bridge linking North Korea with the Chinese border city of Dandong, March 3, 2016. China has banned imports of gold and rare earths from North Korea as well as exports to the country of jet fuel and other oil products used to make rocket fuel, a move in line with new United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang.

China says its trade with North Korea rose in the first six months of 2017, compared to the same period the year before.

China’s Customs Administration announced Thursday that trade with the international pariah North grew 10.5 percent to $2.5 billion between January and June, with exports soaring to 29.1 percent during that period.

The figures are likely to increase calls for Beijing to pressure Pyongyang, its main diplomatic and economic ally, to curb its nuclear and missile testing program. U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out at China’s trade with North Korea in a tweet last week, claiming it had grown “almost 40 percent” in the first quarter of this year.

Trump angrily ended his tweet: “So much for China working with us -- but we had to give it a try!”

But Customs spokesman Huang Songping insisted China was upholding United Nations sanctions on North Korea, citing figures showing a 13.2 percent decline in imports from the regime during the same period, with sharp decreases every month since March.