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China's Commerce Ministry issued a ban, effective from Tuesday, on several imports from North Korea, including coal, iron ore, lead concentrates and ore, lead and seafood, a move that is in line with United Nations sanctions announced this month.

Trump will today formally order a probe into China's intellectual property practices, though United States officials said it was not linked to the North Korean matter.

"By trying to incriminate Beijing as an accomplice in the DPRK's nuclear adventure and blame it for a failure that is essentially a failure of all stakeholders, Trump risks making the serious mistake of splitting up the global coalition that is the means to resolve the issue peacefully", it said.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that Kong had taken over from Wu Dawei, who has turns 71 in December, but that there was no connection between the appointment and the current situation on the Korean peninsula, where tensions have been rising in recent days.

"Fighting a trade war has no future". If an investigation begins, the US government could seek remedies either through or outside of the World Trade Organization.

China's policy of forcing foreign companies to turn over technology to Chinese joint venture partners and failure to crack down on intellectual property theft have been longstanding problems for US administrations.

However, the start of a United States inquiry would not immediately result in open confrontation.

China is the country's closest ally, but has been angered by its missile tests and repeatedly pressured and berated by President Trump, who wants it to be far tougher on its neighbour.

Last week, Washington announced preliminary sanctions against Chinese imports of aluminum foil.

The manufacturer of the iPhone was forced in late July to remove certain apps that would have allowed users to circumvent extensive online restrictions imposed by the Chinese government.

Since March, customs data has shown no coal cargoes have arrived from North Korea in the world's top user of the fuel.

Trump's memo comes amid heightened tensions between the USA and North Korea and increasing frustration in the White House that China has not done more to rein in Pyongyang.

Apple, which has a turnover of more than $30 billion a year in China, is now subject to several measures taken by Beijing that hinder its activities in the country.

Chinese exports to North Korea rose nearly 30 per cent to $1.67 billion in the first half of the year, largely driven by textile materials and other traditional labour-intensive goods not included on the United Nations embargo list, Chinese customs spokesman Huang Songping told reporters. The investigation is being ordered under US Trade Act of 1974, which officials said permits the USTR to investigate acts, policies or practices of a foreign country to determine whether they are indeed unreasonable or discriminatory that burden or otherwise restrict US commerce. He has overall responsibility for Asian affairs at the foreign ministry, according to his resume.

The China Daily said it was unfair for Trump to put the burden on China for dissuading Pyongyang from its actions.