China rejects DPRK’s coal shipment: report

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A man carries his country’s national flag after celebrations of the “Day of the Shining Star” or birthday anniversary of late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Pyongyang, DPRK. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

China rejected a shipment of coal from Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK, a day after the country test-fired a ballistic missile in violation of international sanctions, both China’s Thepaper.cn and South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported on Wednesday.

A load of around 16,296 tons of DPRK’s coal, estimated to be worth around $1 million, was not allowed to be unloaded at a seaport in Wenzhou in East China’s Zhejiang province on Monday, and will be returned to the DPRK’s western port of Nampo, according to the local exit-entry inspection & quarantine bureau official. 

The rejection was due to a higher-than-permissible level of mercury contained in the coal, the agency said.

The move came a day after Pyongyang’s test of the intermediate-range ballistic missile on Sunday, its first direct challenge to the international community since U.S. President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20.

In September, the United Nations imposed new sanctions on DPRK, as part of an effort to deter Pyongyang from pursuing its nuclear weapons program after the country’s fifth and largest nuclear test.

It set an annual sales cap of $400.9 million or 7.5 million tons, whichever is lower, on coal, the isolated country’s biggest export, effective from Jan. 1.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Gen Shuang said he was not aware of the case when asked about the rejection at a regular briefing on Wednesday.

He reiterated the government’s stance that the guidelines on coal in the United Nations sanctions are very clear and China is abiding by them.

Story compiled information from Yonhap, Thepaper.cn, and Reuters.