China: China to block exports to South Korea amid nuclear talks
BRUNO, Switzerland (AP) China will block any exports of South Korean rice and corn to South Africa after a long-running dispute over the two nations’ nuclear weapons, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Friday.
South Korea is seeking to get China to sell more rice and soybean to meet growing demand for the foodstuff in the wake of South Korea’s deadly nuclear tests last year and South Korea-China ties that have been strained since the North’s launch of a ballistic missile in late 2017.
China has threatened to retaliate by stopping all South Korean exports of its grains and corn, a move that could anger South Korea.
The United States and South Korean diplomats have said that the South Korean government has agreed to a deal on a trade deal that could be finalised as early as next week.
China, the world’s second-biggest economy, is seeking an agreement with South Korea to set up a free-trade zone in the South to boost trade with the two countries.
The trade deal is being pushed by South Korea and the United States, but is being criticized by China as a U.S. ploy to gain influence in the region.
The ministry did not elaborate on what sanctions would be imposed on South Korea by China.
The two countries have long been allies, and Beijing is trying to improve its relations with Seoul by allowing South Korean companies to open up.
China is the biggest supplier of food and other products to South Korean farmers and exporters, but its exports to the world have fallen in recent years amid concerns about the North.
The Chinese government has said that South Korea has not agreed to the proposed deal on the free-market trade zone, which would allow South Korea access to China for rice and other grains and soybeans.
China’s foreign ministry did comment on Friday on a report that South Korean President Moon Jae-in is seeking the approval of China’s ambassador in Beijing to seek approval of a trade pact with the U.K.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Thursday said the North Korean nuclear issue should be resolved through dialogue.