Beijing Balks at U.S. Sanctions on Weapons-Related Chinese and North Korean Firms

China is denouncing The United States for placing new sanctions on Chinese and North Korean companies including one linked to weapons of mass destruction.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang on Wednesday said, “We consistently oppose any country adopting unilateral sanctions based on its own domestic laws and regulations and the wrong method of exercising long-arm jurisdiction.”

Sanctions on 13 companies were triggered after U.S. President Donald Trump designated North Korea a state-sponsor of terrorism. Among the targeted companies was Dongyuan Industrial, which the U.S. Treasury Department said was working with front companies “for weapons of mass destruction-related North Korean organisations.”

Dongyuan was also sanctioned for exporting more than $28 million in goods including items linked to nuclear reactors to North Korea. The Treasury added that three companies alone had engaged in more than $750 million worth of business with the Hermit Kingdom, which involved computers, iron and coal.

Generally speaking, these new sanctions ban companies from using U.S.-linked bank accounts and they prevent foreign firms from doing business with such organizations.

The latest round of sanctions places a strain on what appeared to be a cooling of Sino-American relations. During President Trump’s recent visit to Asia, he urged his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and other leaders to take stronger efforts at curtailing North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Trump even said Xi was working hard on that front. But China remains North Korea’s biggest trading partner, and some analysts believe Washington’s latest move on Chinese companies — even those with suspected ties to terror– may cause Beijing to step back.

“Trump will continue to use trade and investment issues to pressure China on North Korea,” says Shou Huisheng, a researcher with Tsinghua University’s National Strategy Institute, in an interview with the South China Morning Post. “It is a very easy-to-use tactic for Trump, which may help him address the North Korean issue, but at the cost of failing to solve the root causes of the US-China trade imbalance.”

Still, Trump’s latest efforts may ultimately set the stage for a massive internal blow to the North Korean regime, whether China is behind it or not.

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