China's export, import growth accelerate in June

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Statistics compiled by Seoul's Unification Ministry show that the number of North Koreans entering South Korea has decreased by a fifth (20.8 percent) in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period a year ago.

But coal imports slumped by 75%, suggesting Beijing is gradually choking off North Korea's biggest source of foreign currency.

China's exports increased at a faster-than-expected pace in June, the General Administration of Customs said Thursday. They had risen by 18% in the quarter ended March.

Exports from the world's second largest economy rose 11.3 per cent from a year earlier, while imports expanded 17.2 per cent, both beating analysts' expectations, official data showed.

President Donald Trump last week criticized China for its ties with North Korea's government following the launch of a test missile, saying that China's economic interests undermined its ability to challenge President Kim Jong-un's totalitarian regime.

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Meanwhile, analysts say economic and political risks could undermine much of the strong trade momentum seen in the first half of this year.

Washington is also investigating aluminum imports from China under the rarely used section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 that allows restrictions on imports for reasons of national security.

The exports were largely driven by textile products and other traditional labour-intensive goods not included on the United Nations embargo list, Huang added.

The new data reflects China's attempt to pull off a delicate balancing act between the US and North Korea, where it wants to prevent the regime collapsing because it worries about what that would mean for regional stability. "Trade related to the people livelihood in North Korea, especially if it embodies humanitarian principles, should not be affected by sanctions", said Huang at a separate news briefing.

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