China has recently rejected a large amount of coal shipment from North Korea one day after it test-fired a ballistic missile in violation of international sanctions, sources said Wednesday.
Around 16,295 tons of North Korean coal, estimated to be worth around US$1 million, was not allowed to be unloaded at a seaport in Wenzhou in China's Zhejiang province on Monday, and will be returned to the North's western port of Nampo, according to the sources.
The rejection was due to a higher-than-permissible level of mercury contained in the coal, they added. But as the rejection came just one day after the North test-fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile, observers raised the possibility that the action may have been China's show of displeasure with the North's provocation.
Coal trade is a major source of income for North Korea, which is facing toughened economic sanctions and international isolation following its continued missile and nuclear tests. Most North Korean coal is bound for China.