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China’s exports of COVID-related items to N.Korea drop in August

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BEIJING — China’s exports to North Korea grew at a slower pace in August than July, as shipments of masks and other COVID-related items plunged, customs data showed on Tuesday.

Pyongyang declared victory over COVID-19 in early August, though later in the month state media said a fever outbreak of unknown origin had emerged in a region bordering China, although they ruled out COVID.

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China exported just 210 masks to North Korea in August, versus 1.23 million in July, according to data released by Chinese customs. No rubber gloves were shipped to North Korea in August, versus exports of 15,000 pairs in July.

After stockpiling 1,000 non-invasive ventilators from China in April and none during May-July, Pyongyang again bought 16 non-invasive ventilators from China in August, worth $4,284.

China’s overall exports to North Korea surged 217.7% in August from a year earlier to $71.54 million, slower than a 255.54% gain in July.

Top exports by value were rubber tires, tobacco, soybean oil and fabric.

North Korea blames South Korea for its COVID outbreak. Seoul denies the claim as groundless. (Reporting by Ellen Zhang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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