China has insisted it "strictly" implements UN sanctions resolutions, after G7 nations, the European Union and three other countries urged Beijing to expel oil tankers from its waters that appeared to be taking fuel to North Korea.
A letter, addressed to Beijing's UN envoy Zhang Jun, raised concerns over the "continuing presence of multiple oil tankers" using Chinese waters to "facilitate their trade of sanctioned petroleum products to the DPRK", referring to North Korea by its official name.
Ambassadors from the G7 nations signed the letter, seen by AFP on Friday, as did envoys from the European Union, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
In response, Beijing said it was "strictly implementing UNSC resolutions and seriously fulfilling international obligations".
"China urges relevant parties to fully implement UNSC resolutions on the DPRK, especially provisions related to resuming dialogue, strengthening diplomatic efforts, and promoting political settlement," the spokesperson for its mission to the UN said in a tweet on Monday.
Asked about the letter at a regular briefing Monday, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said: "When it comes to the implementation of the Security Council's resolutions, China has always earnestly fulfilled its international obligations."
The letter noted that the presence and movement of the tankers had been observed by the UN group of experts tasked with monitoring sanctions compliance by North Korea.
North Korea has been subject to UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile launches and nuclear programmes.
Additional sanctions in 2017 limited its crude oil imports.
The Security Council has been unable to reach a united position since then.
In May 2022, China and Russia vetoed a resolution imposing new sanctions on Pyongyang, and no Council resolution or statement has been adopted since then despite several ballistic missile tests by North Korea.
The United States regularly accuses Beijing and Moscow of shielding the North Korean regime and encouraging further launches by preventing a united response from the Council.