China Bans Coal Imports from North Korea

China has banned all coal imports from North Korea until the end of the year. This comes as a major blow to Pyongyang as coal provides one of North Korea’s major financial lifelines. The announcement comes after recent North Korean missile tests and is a sign that Beijing is increasing pressure on Pyongyang to de-escalate tensions in the region. Coal is North Korea’s single largest export, and the nation is heavily reliant on trade with China due to its increasing international isolation and ensuing economic decline.

The Chinese Commerce Ministry has said that China is fulfilling its obligations to last November’s U.N. Security Council resolution to impose greater economic sanctions on North Korea after its fifth nuclear test of 2016; however, this recent move comes only a day after North Korea’s recent test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile.

North Korea has continued ballistic missile testing since the ban was announced. A recent test coincided with joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises and aimed 3 missiles into Japanese waters.

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