Trade volume between North Korea and China posted double-digit growth in the first quarter of 2016 from a year earlier despite the United Nations' punitive economic sanctions imposed on the reclusive country, official data showed Wednesday.
The size of bilateral trade stood at 7.79 billion yuan ($1.2 billion) in the January-March period, up 12.7 percent from the same period last year, Huang Songping, spokesman of China's General Administration of Customs, said during a press briefing on the country's first-quarter trade outcome.
The increased trade volume is attributable to a sharp rise in China's exports to North Korea in the three months, which posted 14.7 percent growth to 3.96 billion yuan, according to the spokesman.
On the other hand, China's imports from North Korea contracted 10.8 percent to 3.83 billion yuan, he said.
"Major Chinese exports to North Korea are machinery, electronic goods, labor-intensive products and agricultural goods, while imports mainly are coal and iron ore," Huang said.
The spokesman indicated that the trade increase should not be viewed as China circumventing the U.N. Security Council sanctions because the latest figure accounts for bilateral trade volume before the sanctions took effect.
China immediately implemented the sanctions after it announced a list of banned trade goods with North Korea on April 5, the spokesman pointed out.
"The China-North Korea trade data for the first quarter has nothing to do with anti-North sanctions," the official said, also vowing to "follow through with the U.N. sanctions resolution thoroughly."
Another official from China's State Council stressed any trade items that concern the public welfare or have no link to North Korea's nuclear weapons development are not subject to the sanctions.
But the official refused to release the monthly trade figure for March, only saying that the monthly data is not available.
In early March, the U.N. adopted the toughest sanctions it has ever slapped on North Korea as punishment for the communist country's defiant nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch in February. (Yonhap)