The ban, according to a statement posted on the website of the Chinese Commerce Ministry, takes effect on today and will last until the end of the year. But while it does not approve of the North's weapons program, China has also been seen as reluctant to inflict crippling pain on North Korea, for fear that it might destabilize its Communist neighbor. "Pyongyang should be conscious of this reality". While China will hardly suffer material adverse impacts, Chinese trade - and aid - have always been a vital economic crutch for North Korea, and the decision strips North Korea of one of its most important sources of foreign currency.
China appears determined to maintain this harsh restriction - in line with United Nations sanctions but more emphatic than expected - despite the risks to the North Korean regime. Over US disclaimers, the Chinese insist THAAD, or Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence, could just as well be aimed at China as at a North Korean missile.
Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters later Monday that he had confidence in the objectivity of his country's police and doctors.
Beijing has also blocked shipments of various South Korean products, including cosmetics, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap. Write to us in the Comments Section.
Investigators want to speak to Kim Jong Nam's next of kin to formally identify the body. China, still the source of all North Korea's oil and half its food, had previously held out against stopping the coal imports needed for the North's survival. North Korea has accelerated its development of nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles since 2009, when it walked away from six-party talks involving the U.S., South Korea, China, Russia and Japan.
Since the economic collapse of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the late 1990s, the Chinese government has been artificially supporting the Pyongyang regime through favorable trade agreements, in particular over coal imports, and "humanitarian relief" care packages. The United States, Japan and South Korea, as well as Russian Federation and China, took part in talks with North Korea on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula between 2003 and 2009, when Pyongyang withdrew from the talks.
"China still wields some of the power because it protects North Korea for ideological reasons".
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But after Jong-Il's death in 2011 the succession went instead to his younger son Kim Jong-Un. It said its intermediate-range Pukguksong-2 missile used a solid-fuel technology that American experts say will make it harder to detect missile attacks from the North. "But nobody has any way of knowing whether that fuel is being used for civilian or military purposes".
Three other North Koreans were wanted for questioning, police said.
Reducing coal exports is part of the sanctions passed in November.
But China imported 18.6 million tonnes of coal from North Korea in the first 10 months of 2016, an increase of 13 percent over the same period in the previous year.
Furthermore, the USA and South Korea are preparing for Key Resolve - joint exercises perceived as a threat in North Korea.
Reported by Wong Siu-san and Wong Si-lam for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Wu Jing for the Mandarin Service.