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BEIJING (Reuters) - China is ramping up controls on imports of low-quality coal due to concerns about smog and overcapacity in the world's top coal consumer, a government official said on Wednesday, as traders report some cargoes have been delayed by customs checks.
"As long as coal meets standards, we don't forbid imports, but we are imposing controls on low-quality coal imports," said Zhi Shuping, head of the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine which oversees imports safety.
The official was speaking on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China's parliament.
"If we let all kinds of coal import into domestic market, it will hit the domestic market," Zhi said. Last year, the agency rejected 1.5 million tonnes of imported coal, he said.
His comments come as some international traders have complained about delays of weeks in getting some cargoes cleared through customs in China due to tougher inspections at ports.
It's not clear how widespread the checks are. One official at a global merchant, speaking on condition of anonymity, said his company's shipments into Jiangsu province took longer than usual to get customs clearance.
Reporting by Meng Meng and Hallie Gu in BEIJING and Fergus Jensen in JAKARTA; Writing by Josephine Mason; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell