This development comes in the wake of South Korea seizing a ship from Hong Kong suspected to have engaged in mid-sea oil trade with North Korea and US satellite images showing two vessels - one each from North Korea and China - carrying out some sort of a trade deal in a part of the West Sea, between China and South Korea.
In the Times interview, Trump explicitly tied his administration's trade policy with China to its perceived co-operation in resolving the North Korea nuclear crisis. Oil restrictions have always been seen as the ultimate leverage Beijing possesses over Pyongyang, a leverage China has been reluctant to use despite frequent American requests to do so.
He said: "Oil is going into North Korea".
The newspaper said six other ships that US authorities say are violating North Korea sanctions are Chinese-owned but registered overseas.
According to South Korean officials, the Winmore - operating under charter to Taiwan-based Billions Bunker Group - loaded 14,000 tons of petroleum product at the port of Yeosu on October 11.
Beijing, which accounts for most of the North's trade and energy supplies, was Pyongyang's diplomatic protector for decades but has supported the latest United Nations measures.
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"The global shipping industry is open, and it is common for ships to change flag country, registration place or charter to other parties", Geng said. The newspaper said the ship was registered in Malaysia until mid-2017 and then switched to Panama.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson said she did not have any information about the matter.
What happened with the Lighthouse Winmore?
Is oil part of the sanctions against the North?
The country's Commerce Ministry said it would impose a cap on oil supplies to the North and ban imports of its steel and other goods. China claims that no Chinese oil was exported to North Korea from Beijing in November, a fact meant to illustrate China's willingness to get tough with its unruly client state, although some observers point out that Chinese oil suppliers might also have grown exasperated with North Korea's failure to pay for its oil imports.
The statement comes after the UN Security Council last month unanimously voted in favour of new penalties on North Korea for its recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, seeking to limit its access to refined petroleum products and crude oil.