White House weighs unilateral sanctions against NKorea targeting Chinese firms

Frustrated with what the Trump administration finds as lack of cooperation from China and North Korean intransigence, the White House is preparing an economic sanctions package targeting Chinese firms which officials say are breathing life into North Korea’s ballistic missile program.

According to unnamed U.S. officials, small Chinese banks and firms with ties to Pyongyang’s ballistic missile program are being targeted. “Substantially more than 10” Chinese firms are under consideration for sanctions.

The decision by the American government to act alone in punishing Pyongyang follows North Korea’s July 4 milestone test of a long-range inter-continental ballistic missile.

For decades, Washington has accused China of assisting North Korea and aiding the rogue state in its attempt to evade the effects of sanctions.

Prior to the July 4 missile test, the U.S. had been weighing tighter restrictions on North Korea, with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stating the administration was looking into any and all methods to sanction Pyongyang.

Denouncing what it characterized as the “China responsibility theory,” Beijing lambasted the U.S. and others on Tuesday for repeatedly calling on the East Asian superpower to reign-in North Korea.

“Recently, certain people, talking about the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, have been exaggerating and giving prominence to the so-called ‘China responsibility theory.’  I think this either shows lack of a full, correct knowledge of the issue, or there are ulterior motives for it, trying to shift responsibility,” said Geng Shuang, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson.

Geng added Beijing is opposed to unilateral action against Pyongyang and emphasized it had obeyed UN sanctions against North Korea.

 

[Wall Street Journal] [Reuters] [The Guardian] [Photo courtesy Korean Central News Agency/Reuters via CNBC]