President Donald Trump’s administration is preparing a series of new sanctions on China over frustration that they are not doing enough to rein in the North Korean threat, days after the hermit state once again threatened to turn the United States into a “pile of ash.”
An exclusive report by Reuters reveals that the administration is drawing up plans to impose sanctions on small Chinese banks dealing with Pyongyang, as well as “shell” companies with links to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, according to senior administration officials. However, some of China’s largest banks will not be affected.
“The president is losing patience with China,” the official said, adding that there would be a “more aggressive approach to sanctioning Chinese entities in the not-too-distant future.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang responded to the possible sanctions by reiterating the country’s commitment to enforcing U.N. resolutions, adding that unilateral sanctions were outside the framework of this commitment.
“What China enforces is United Nations resolutions, not the domestic law of certain countries,” Shuang said, adding that sanctions represented “abandoning one’s benefactor upon achieving one’s goal.”
In June, Trump expressed disappointment with Chinese efforts to contain North Korea, having previously promised the Chinese would do more to de-escalate tensions.
“While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out,” he wrote on Twitter, following the death of American hostage Otto Warmbier. “At least I know China tried!”
While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2017
Warmbier, who was 22, was arrested by North Korean authorities and sentenced to 15 years hard labor for “hostile acts” after he stole pro-government paraphernalia from his hotel. He was returned to America in June in a coma having sustained serious brain damage, and he died a week later.
Trump’s most recent comments dampened his initial optimism following a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in April.
“Look, I’ve been talking about China for years,” he told Fox News host Martha MacCallum during an interview. “Now, I speak nicely about China because I really do believe they’re trying to help out with respect to North Korea.”
He also addressed reports of North Korea launching missiles in May, asserting that North Korea had shown the Chinese “great disrespect” and that China was “trying hard” to get them to stop.
In April, China positioned 150,000 troops along their much larger border with North Korea last week, as well as sending a fleet of fully-loaded cargo ships destined for North Korea back home.
North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile…but China is trying hard!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2017
This week, North Korean state television claimed that they would “turn the US into a pile of ash” if Trump used military force to contain their nuclear program, the latest in a series of similar threats against Washington and Seoul.