China says U.N. sanctions on North Korea allowed buffer period for coal, seafood ban

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has comprehensively implemented United Nations sanctions on North Korea, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.

Commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters in Beijing that U.N. sanctions gave a “cushioning” or buffer period for implementation of the ban on coal and seafood imports from North Korea.

The comment was in response to a question about data from China’s customs administration showing China imported 1.6 million tonnes of coal from North Korea in August, the first since February, when Beijing banned purchases of the fuel from its northeast neighbor.

On Aug. 14, the commerce ministry said it would allow any cargoes that were already at port to clear customs as usual before the U.N. sanctions came into force on Sept. 5.

Reporting by Yawen Chen and Elias Glenn; Editing by Michael Perry