China continued to block massive amounts of South Korean cosmetics and other imports in December in what was earlier believed to be a move to retaliate against South Korea's planned installation of a US missile defense system, market sources in Beijing said.
According to the sources, China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine blocked shipments of 19 cosmetics products from South Korea in December.
The number accounted for about 28 percent of the total 68 imported cosmetics rejected by the Chinese office, and the second largest from a single country after 22 rejected products from Australia.
The South Korean goods, however, accounted for 52 percent of the total in terms of weight, the sources said.
The repeated rejection of South Korean products came amid growing tension between Seoul and Beijing over the former's plan to install the US missile defense system, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense or THAAD.
Many believed China sought to express its dismay with the imminent deployment of the U.S. missile defense system in South Korea, which it has accused of being an attempt to keep an eye on China as well.
Seoul and Washington, on the other hand, have repeatedly explained the system is only aimed at deterring North Korea's nuclear and long-range missile programs.
Some market observers said China's rejection of the imported goods may have been purely based on quarantine reasons, noting that the 19 South Korean products that failed inspection in December had lacked documents or test results required by the Chinese government.
"The inspection administration greatly intensified its standards for cosmetics last year. South Korean exporters need to quickly adjust to China's new regulations as many South Korean cosmetics products are being rejected under the raised quality standards," an observer said, asking not to be identified.
Meanwhile, the market sources here said some 20 tons worth of South Korean food products had also been rejected in December.
They included fruit juice, instant ramen noodles and rice. The sources said the products were found to have more than the allowed levels of certain ingredients.
In December, the Chinese inspection office blocked a total of 514 imported products from entering the Chinese market. South Korean products accounted for 5.1 percent of the total, while Taiwanese imports accounted for 22.6 percent, followed by Japan with 9.5 percent, Malaysia at 9.3 percent and Australia with 5.3 percent. (Yonhap)