Starting February 19, China has halted all coal imports from North Korea until the end of 2017, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
The decision complies with a United Nation’s Security Council Resolution No. 2321 that China helped draft and passed in November, the ministry said. The import of coal from North Korea, including coal that has already been declared to customs, but not yet released, will be suspended until December 31.
The ban came after North Korea tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile on February 12.
In a commentary by the Korean Central News Agency, it said a “neighboring country” was downplaying the significance of the test fire and that “it has unhesitatingly taken inhumane steps such as totally blocking foreign trade related to the improvement of people’s living standard under the plea of the U.N. ‘resolutions on sanctions’ devoid of legal ground.”
Despite restrictions that were also in place in 2016, North Korea was China's fourth biggest supplier of coal, with non-lignite imports of 22.48 million metric tons, a 14.5% increase from 2015, according to Reuters.