China is cutting its emergency food aid to North Korea by a third this year compared to 1997. It will also continue to deal directly with Pyongyang instead of responding to a United Nations World Food Programme appeal. A Chinese Foreign Ministry official said Beijing would provide 100,000 tonnes of grain to Pyongyang in direct aid compared to 150,000 tonnes last year and 120,000 tonnes in 1996. Beijing is also providing 20,000 tonnes of chemical fertiliser. In response to reports that the North Korean famine was worsening, UN organisations appealed in January for a substantial increase in donations of food and money. Some donors have responded by promising more aid. The United States, which North Korea has always regarded as its most bitter enemy, will provide 200,000 tonnes this year, twice as much as China. Last month, premier Zhu Rongji said Chinese grain stocks were at an historical high and would tide the country through several years of bad harvests. Some of the surplus could not be stored and was going to waste. Beijing may be reducing its declared grain donations to demonstrate its displeasure at Pyongyang's refusal to carry out agricultural reforms and to enter into negotiations with Washington and Seoul. Japanese reports claim Beijing has also refused to extend an invitation for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to visit. In 1994, Beijing halted all exports of grain to North Korea in response to perceived shortages. In 1995, it answered an appeal for help by sending cotton fibre and other aid worth about US$4 million (HK$30.9 million).