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State-run media in North Korea published a mocking column that faulted China for implementing international sanctions imposed on the nuclear-armed dictatorship.

“This country, styling itself a big power, is dancing to the tune of the U.S. while defending its mean behavior with such excuses that it was meant not to have a negative impact on the living of the people in the DPRK but to check its nuclear program,” the Korean Central News Agency column said.

China has long provided economic support to the North Korean regime, but a series of weapons tests prompted the Chinese government to allow another round of sanctions to pass through the UN Security Council. The KCNA column comes days after the Chinese government decided to suspend all coal imports following North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test.

“It has often stated that the UN ‘resolutions on sanctions’ should not have negative impact on the people’s living,” the KCNA column said. “Its recent measures are, in effect, tantamount to the enemies’ moves to bring down the social system in the DPRK.”

That’s an apparent allusion to China’s announcement last year that it would back the sanctions while including exemptions for “normal trade” in support of “civilian and humanitarian needs.” China’s suspension of coal imports, coming days after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi discussed “the need to address the threat that North Korea poses to regional stability,” suggests a change in that policy.

“I would take this editorial as hard evidence that China has told North Korea it is narrowing the definition of coal exports for ‘humanitarian purposes,'” Adam Cathcart, an expert on China and North Korea at University of Leeds, told the Wall Street Journal.



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