The United States has blocked all financial ties with a Chinese bank suspected of aiding North Korea’s nuclear program.
The move against the Bank of Dandong was announced by the Treasury Department on Thursday, maintaining that the firm will not access the American financial system either “directly or indirectly”.
“We will cut the money off to North Korea until they behave properly,” said Department Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “It’s the first bank that we’ve cut off. We will continue to look at these actions and we will continue to roll out sanctions. We are committed to cutting off all illegal funds going to North Korea.”
In addition to the bank, a Chinese business and two Chinese nationals also received sanctions.
China, meanwhile, is displeased. In response to the decision, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang objected, “We strongly urge the U.S. to immediately correct its wrongful actions to avoid affecting bilateral cooperation on relevant issues.”
However, Mnuchin argued that the Trump administration is not trying to target Beijing, saying, “We appreciate their work and hope they will continue to work with us.”
Still, some believe that China could have done more.
Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser and director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, commented via The Washington Post:
“The reality is that China has not taken what is the most important step, which is shutting down North Korean access to Chinese banks and front companies that enable them to launder money and continue their illicit activities.”
Interestingly, the sanctions follow a week after President Donald Trump tweeted that President Xi Jinping’s efforts on North Korea have “not worked out.”