China on Friday denied violating United Nations -imposed limits on oil supplies to North Korea after U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Beijing for allowing oil to reach the North.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying rejected Trump's claims.
The US Treasury Department last month sanctioned six North Korean shipping and trading firms and 20 of their vessels, and published photos of what it said was a North Korean vessel on October 19 possibly transferring oil to evade sanctions.
China accounts for the vast majority of North Korea's external trade and oil supplies.
Ship-to-ship trade with North Korea at sea is prohibited under United Nations sanctions adopted in September.
Beijing, long North Korea's main diplomatic protector, has expressed growing frustration with its nuclear and missile tests.
"China has been completely and strictly implementing Security Council resolutions and fulfilling our global obligations", Hua said at a regular news briefing.
"China has never allowed any Chinese citizens or enterprises to conduct any activities that run counter to Security Council resolutions", she said.
South Korea seizes ship suspected of sending oil to North Korea
News of the ship inspection came hours after President Donald Trump criticized China following previous reports that Chinese ships transferred oil to North Korean vessels at sea.
Diplomats had said on Thursday that all four were North Korean vessels.
South Korea has seized a ship suspected of illegally supplying oil to North Korea, the center of a brewing worldwide controversy on the peninsula that has widened to China and President Trump.
The North Korean oil tanker Sam Jong 2 so far has not been banned from worldwide ports, but it appears on a list of six ships suspected of transporting cargo banned under the global sanctions. The ship was seized when it returned to Yeosu.
It is uncertain whether the Chinese government is deliberately looking the other way, but it seems unlikely that it is unaware given the sheer volume. "So, the relevant report is not consistent with the fact".
There was no immediate evidence of Chinese involvement in the suspected transfer of oil by the ship seized by South Korea, The NYT reports.
"China has applied certain import bans and sanctions, but it could and should do more", he wrote in The New York Times.
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