BEIJING: China today disputed US President Donald Trump's statement that it has asked Chinese banks to cut off business ties with North Korea, saying it was "inconsistent with facts".
China, an ally of North Korea, accounts for about 90 per cent of Pyongyang's foreign trade. Beijing halted its imports of coal, iron ore, seafood and other goods, implementing UN sanctions imposed on North Korea for its provocative nuclear and missile tests.
Trump today praised China for instructing its banks to cut off business with North Korea.
"As far as I know, what you mentioned now is not consistent with facts," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Lu Kang told reporters here, when asked about Trump remarks.
Without elaborating, Lu, however, said "in principle China has always implemented the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions in their entirety and fulfilled its due responsibility".
In response to North Korea's recurring nuclear and missile tests, the council has told its member countries to ban most activity abroad by the banks of that country.
If China implements the sanctions it will bring about a financial isolation for Pyongyang, cutting off its international transactions routed through Chinese banks.
The US president said China's action was a "somewhat unexpected move and we appreciate it".
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he had spoken with the head of China's central bank. "But I am not going to comment on confidential discussions", he was quoted as saying by the BBC.
Trump has also signed a new order that boosts sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons programme.
The US treasury has been authorised to target firms and financial institutions conducting business with North Korea.
Lu, however, said "China opposes the imposition of sanctions outside the framework of the United Nations Security Council".
Last month, the US announced sanctions against five Chinese firms and one individual, two Singapore-based companies and three Russian citizens alleging that they supported North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.