North Korean youths in uniform carry furniture along a bridge in Pyongyang on Monday. The city is facing a shortage of gasoline at stations, according to Chinese state media. File Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA
April 20 (UPI) -- Gas stations in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang have suspended services due to a gasoline shortage in the country, according to Chinese state media.
China's Global Times reported Thursday several fueling stations in the city were shut down and the price of 4 gallons of gasoline had risen from $13 to $22.
Fuel for cars was only being provided to vehicles with diplomatic license plates, according to the report.
A Chinese investment official in the country who spoke anonymously said that stations servicing foreign envoys "never shut down."
The restricted service is unprecedented and possibly a forewarning of rising oil prices, the official told the Global Times.
The report, however, did not provide details on why the measures were being taken, or whether China was signaling to North Korea of impending sanctions.
China is expected to take bold measures against North Korea if Pyongyang goes ahead with a sixth nuclear test.
Beijing could cut its supply of crude oil, a heavy form of punishment that could cut into the 1 million tons of oil China supplies to the relatively isolated country annually.
North Korea relies on China for 75-90 percent of its oil imports and the fate of North Korea's economy depends heavily on Chinese actions.
The two countries have shown signs of a new rift following the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
State media have been more outspoken in criticism of the Kim Jong Un regime, and North Korea in turn may be cracking down on the viewing of Chinese media, according to sources in the country.
An ethnic Chinese resident in North Korea told Radio Free Asia authorities have cracked down on foreign media in Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province.
The crackdown extends to the ethnic Chinese population who were once free to watch the movies in their homes, the source said.