Beijing has repeatedly proposed negotiations on the basis that North Korea freezes its nuclear and missile tests in return for the US and South Korea halting their large-scale joint military exercises. "The proposed restrictions imply the introduction of an embargo on energy supplies to Pyongyang and a ban on employing North Korean nationals overseas", the source stated. Iron ore is among China's biggest imports from the North after it stopped buying coal this year due to the sanctions.
Frustrated that China has not done more to rein in North Korea, the Trump administration could impose new sanctions on small Chinese banks and other firms doing business with Pyongyang within weeks, two senior USA officials said.
The Trump administration has prepared a UN Security Council draft resolution that contains tough new economic penalties on North Korea following Pyongyang's purported intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test on July 4.
China has always been the North's main diplomatic defender but increasingly expresses frustration with leader Kim Jong Un's provocative behavior.
"Trade between China and North Korea grew nearly 40% in the first quarter". The alleged network included one of the largest Chinese importers of North Korean goods, Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Material Co.
"The trade growth between China and North Korea in the first half of the year was mainly driven by exports", Huang said, adding that the exports were mainly labor-intensive products like textiles, which are not banned under United Nations resolutions.
Chinese imports of North Korean coal in the first half fell 75 percent to 2.7 million tons from a year earlier following the suspension in February, according to Huang Songping, a Customs agency spokesman.
"We make the proposal for a meeting... aimed at stopping all hostile activities that escalate military tension along the land border", the defence ministry said in a statement.
Huang said month-on-month figures showed an even sharper decline.
North Korea has vowed to continue developing its nuclear capabilities and carry out frequent missile launches.