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North Korea nuclear crisis

China takes aim at US sanctions on Chinese and North Korean companies

Beijing says Washington’s unilateral action is wrong and counterproductive

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 November, 2017, 7:32pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 November, 2017, 11:27pm

China has lashed out at the United States for slapping sanctions on 13 Chinese and North Korean organisations for supporting Pyongyang, labelling Washington’s action a wrong move.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing on Wednesday that China opposed unilateral action on North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

“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,” Lu said.

“If other parties wish to have effective cooperation with China on this issue and really have a grasp of certain matters, they can totally share intelligence with China and cooperate with China to appropriately handle the issue.”

Washington adopted the sanctions this week after US President Donald Trump put North Korea on a list of state sponsors of terrorism. In most cases, the sanctions ban the organisations from using US-related bank accounts and foreign companies from doing business with them.

US imposes fresh sanctions on Chinese and North Korean companies

The US action affects three Chinese companies: Dandong Kehua Economic and Trade, Dandong Xianghe Trading and Dandong Hongda Trade. The US Treasury Department said the three companies had done more than US$750 million in business with North Korea over five years until August 31, including in computers, coal and iron.

Chinese national Sun Sidong and his company Dandong Dongyuan Industrial were also sanctioned for exporting over US$28 million worth of goods – including items associated with nuclear reactors – to North Korea over several years.

The US Treasury Department also said Dongyuan had been linked to front companies “for weapons of mass destruction-related North Korean organisations”.

During his trip to the Chinese capital this month, Trump called on Beijing to work harder to prevent Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons. Beijing insisted that the crisis should be resolved through dialogue.

Shou Huisheng, a researcher with Tsinghua University’s National Strategy Institute, said the sanctions were an extension of Trump’s policy on North Korea.

“Trump will continue to use trade and investment issues to pressure China on North Korea. It is a very easy-to-use tactic for Trump, which may help him address the North Korea issue, but at the cost of failing to solve the root causes of the US-China trade imbalance,” Shou said.

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James Acton, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said China was not willing to put more pressure on North Korea.

“China made it clear not to [impose] a complete economic blockade because China is worried that it would lead to collapse of the North Korean regime,“ he said.

Fears of a trade war between China and the US have also risen, with the US launching investigations against China, including one into Chinese regulations that force American companies operating in China to transfer technology and intellectual property rights to local business partners.

Lu Xiang, a specialist on China-US relations with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that if the trade investigations led to major sanctions on Chinese companies, it would be a clear sign of damage to the bilateral relationship.