Annual US-South Korea military exercises set to be biggest ever

The move, announced by China's commerce ministry on Saturday, is believed to form part of the country's efforts to implement United Nations sanctions against North Korea.

The increase in firepower comes after North Korea escalated tensions with its latest missile launch.

However, one of the factors for not being able to stop North Korea's nuclear and missile development was that China's past implementations of sanctions were imperfect.

In practice, that exception was the cover for coal to continue to flow across the border in huge quantities, with imports of nonlignite coal up 14.5 percent past year to 22.5 million metric tons (24.8 million US tons).

In fact, as NPR's Elise Hu has reported, many analysts say coal makes for some 35 percent of North Korea's economy. Last April, Beijing already declared it would curb coal deliveries to comply with the United Nations sanctions, but imports for "people's well-being" would continue.

After last week's ballistic missile test, China reportedly rejected a shipment of North Korean coal at a port in Wenzhou.

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Aside from being ineffectual, over emphasizing China's role in North Korea could have an unintended outcome by giving Beijing leverage in U.S.

"On this point, the United States and North Korea. must quickly come to a political decision", he said.

China is one of North Korea's few allies and the country with whom North Korea does the bulk of its trade.

China should take this matter seriously and further exert its influence on North Korea in earnest.

Following North Korea's fourth nuclear test in February previous year, the United Nations Security Council passed UNSC Resolution 2270, which placed restrictions on North Korea's coal exports but made exceptions through the "livelihood purposes" clause.

The North's apparent assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of leader Kim Jong-un, has added fuel to calls for putting the North back on the terror sponsors' list.

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These could push the reclusive state into further provocations, observers said.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida held talks with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se in Germany.

But it made exceptions for deliveries intended for "the people's well-being" and not connected to the nuclear or missile programs. "We won't pay attention to North Korea's interests anymore".

Some believe North Korea is nearing completion of a ballistic missile that can reach the US mainland.

In late January, several Chinese ministries jointly issued an extensive list of prohibited items for export to North Korea in compliance of Resolution 2321. We urge the South Korean government to quickly approach the private group that erected the statue and the local government to start discussions for its removal.

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