Following a few months of friendly relations with China, US President Donald Trump looks to be taking the gloves off with the United States announcing sanctions against a Chinese bank alleged to have financial ties with North Korea.
On Thursday, the US Treasury Department announced that all US banks would be severing financial ties with the Bank of Dandong, accused of helping to illicitly finance the North Korean regime, undercutting United Nations sanctions.
At a White House briefing, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin vowed to “cut the money off to North Korea until they behave properly,” adding that more similar sanctions could follow. “It’s the first bank that we’ve cut off,” Mnuchin said. “We will continue to look at these actions and we will continue to roll out sanctions.
In the Washington Post, Josh Rogin writes that the Trump administration has “called China’s bluff” on North Korea, reporting that the sanctions on the Bank of Dandong follow a “good faith” effort by the US to determine which Chinese firms were working to undermine international sanctions against the DPRK. While Beijing did respond to requests for information, the Trump administration felt that the response was not sufficient.
“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,” Bonnie Glaser, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Post, adding that the sanctions announced on Thursday “are not enough, we still need China to act.”
The decision comes just a week after Trump tweeted that cooperating with China on reining in North Korea had “not worked out” and follow reports that Trump is becoming increasingly “frustrated” with China. It also comes just as the US has approved a $1.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan, all while President Xi Jinping is on an important visit to Hong Kong to celebrate 20 years of Chinese rule.
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