24 May 2019
Pyongyang has conducted nine missile tests since US President Donald Trump came into office. Photo: Reuters
Pyongyang has conducted nine missile tests since US President Donald Trump came into office. Photo: Reuters

US weighs sanctions on Chinese entities over North Korea

The Trump administration has asked Beijing to take action against nearly 10 Chinese companies and individuals to curb their trading with North Korea, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Senior US officials said the move is part of a strategy to decapitate key networks that support Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons program  

Although there is no firm deadline, the US has indicated the Treasury Department could impose unilateral sanctions on some of these entities before the end of the summer if Beijing doesn’t act, the US officials said.

Without such action, US officials fear that Pyongyang, which has conducted nine missile tests since President Donald Trump took office, would be able to develop a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead as far as the continental US within a few years.

The Trump administration, like the Obama administration, has voiced hope China would increase pressure on Pyongyang, and it has praised Beijing’s moves to reduce coal imports from its communist ally in recent months.

Still, senior US officials acknowledged that China has indicated in the past that it would punish North Korea, only to dash the hopes of successive US administrations. As a result, the Trump administration needs to be prepared to act unilaterally, these officials said.

The US officials declined to name the entities being targeted.

But several Chinese entities of concern are identified in a report to be released Monday by a Washington nonpartisan research group, C4ADS, which works to expose illicit trading networks.

Those identified in the report include a Chinese businessman and his sister said to be connected to a ship intercepted by Egypt last year while smuggling 30,000 North Korean rocket-propelled grenades.

US officials say the report is in line with part of the Trump administration’s strategy toward North Korea.

While C4ADS is a private organization, its reports have been shared widely with US government agencies and Congress. The Justice Department used C4ADS findings in its indictment last September of a Chinese businesswoman and Communist Party member accused of aiding Pyongyang’s military programs, according to current and former US officials involved in the case.

Pyongyang conducts roughly 90 percent of its recorded foreign trade through China, according to Chinese trade data.

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