Shipments of crude oil to North Korea from China increased 11.2 percent on-year in 2013, a South Korean government report showed Monday, the latest sign that Beijing still gives Pyongyang access to the vital commodity despite its defiant pursuit of nuclear weapons.
North Korea imported a total of 578,000 tons of crude oil from China last year, compared with 520,000 tons in 2012, according to the report based on China's customs data.
Monthly shipments of crude oil from China to North Korea were absent in February, June and July last year, but Beijing exported "a large amount of crude oil" to Pyongyang in the second-half of last year, the report said.
In 2013, trade between North Korea and China rose 8.9 percent on-year to reach $6.54 billion, with the North's exports to China jumping 18 percent to $2.91 billion, the report showed.
"Our overall analysis is that international sanctions against North Korea's nuclear and missile programs have not reduced or shrunk the North's trade with China," a South Korean diplomat said on the condition of anonymity.
Although China appears to have become increasingly frustrated with its wayward neighbor, particularly after the North's third nuclear test in February last year, Beijing has been expanding its economic cooperation with Pyongyang.
Many analysts believe that China will not exert sufficient pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambition because excessive pressure on Pyongyang could jeopardize stability in the region. (Yonhap)