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North Korea nuclear crisis

US to use security talks to express concerns about Chinese firms with ties to North Korea

About 10 Chinese companies and individuals allegedly have links to North Korea’s missile and nuclear programme

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2017, 6:58am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2017, 10:36pm

The US will use a high-level security dialogue with China on Wednesday to make Beijing aware of Washington’s concerns about nearly 10 Chinese companies and individuals allegedly having links to North Korea’s missile and nuclear programme, a senior US diplomat confirmed.

The comments by Susan Thornton, US acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, came as the Trump administration aims to push China to increase pressure on Pyongyang ahead of the US-China security dialogue in Washington.

US President Donald Trump said in a Twitter post on Tuesday that China’s efforts to bring a resolution to the North Korea crisis have “not worked out”.

“At least I know China tried!” the president tweeted.

Thornton reiterated in a press briefing on Tuesday that the US will keep the option of imposing sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals who allegedly back Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests on the table.

The US has accused a Chinese company, Mingzheng International Trading, of laundering money on behalf of the Foreign Trade Bank, a North Korean lender subject to sanctions, the US Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia said in a statement last Thursday.

US warns Chinese firms with ties to North Korea may still face sanctions

The Trump administration has also provided China with a list of entities or people that allegedly support Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear weapons network against which Beijing needs to take action, US State Secretary Rex Tillerson told a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week.

If the US did sanction Chinese individuals and firms, China would be unlikely to respond in kind, Thornton said. “I don’t expect any particular retaliation [from China]” as payback for unilateral sanctions “as they are meant to protect the US financial system and US interests in these cases”, the official said.

The meeting on Wednesday will be the first diplomacy and security dialogue, one of four discussions mechanisms agreed upon during the summit between Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Florida in April.

The dialogue will be co-chaired by Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary James Mattis. General Fang Fenghui, a member of China’s Central Military Commission, will also take part.