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The Chinese government says it is limiting exports of crude oil and refined oil products to North Korea in line with new United Nations sanctions on the North.

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted the new sanction resolution on the North on December 22nd, following Pyongyang's ballistic missile launch in November.

China claims that no Chinese oil was exported to North Korea from Beijing in November, a fact meant to illustrate China's willingness to get tough with its unruly client state, although some observers point out that Chinese oil suppliers might also have grown exasperated with North Korea's failure to pay for its oil imports.

China will halt exports of industrial machinery, certain vehicles, iron, steel and other metals to North Korea, the ministry said on its website.

South Korea has revealed it seized a Hong Kong-registered ship last month suspected of supplying oil to the North in breach of worldwide sanctions. He tweeted last month that China has been "caught red handed" facilitating oil trade to North Korea.

"If, through investigation, it's confirmed there are violations of the UN Security Council resolutions, China will deal with them seriously in accordance with laws and regulations".

South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper this week quoted South Korean government sources as saying that USA spy satellites had detected Chinese ships transferring oil to North Korean vessels about 30 times since October.

The move, in line with the UN Security Council resolutions, will be effective from tomorrow. "But when oil is going in, I'm not happy about that". "If they don't help us with North Korea, then I do what I've always said I want to do".

"It's unclear how much oil the ship had transferred to North Korea for how long and on how many occasions, but it clearly showed North Korea is engaged in evading the sanctions", the official told Reuters.

Is oil part of the sanctions against the North?

Quoting South Korean government officials, the report said the illegal ship-to-ship transfers had been filmed by United States spy satellites about 30 times since October.

The new Chinese restrictions were announced amid allegations that Chinese ships under foreign flags have been violating sanctions by transferring goods to North Korean vessels, including oil.

Previous sanctions banned sales of natural gas to North Korea and purchases of the North's textile exports, another key revenue source.

Exports of crude oil will not exceed four million barrels (525,000 tonnes) during any 12-month period, and exports of refined oil products will cease when the total approaches a ceiling of 500,000 barrels.