The Trump administration issued a round of secondary sanctions against two Chinese citizens, a Chinese shipping company, and a Chinese bank for their financial ties to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced Thursday. Mnuchin said the sanctions were part of a larger effort to block financial channels used by North Korea to advance its weapons programs. “We will follow the money and cut off the money,” he told reporters at a news conference.
The new sanctions prohibit the firm Dalian Global Unity Shipping and two citizens, Sun Wei and Li Hong Ri, from conducting business with U.S.-linked companies and individuals. But their main target is the Bank of Dandong, which is now cut off from the U.S. financial system following evidence that it enabled North Korea’s illicit financial activity, including money laundering. “This bank has served as a gateway for North Korea to access the U.S. and international financial systems, facilitating millions of dollars of transactions for companies involved in North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” Mnuchin said Thursday. “The United States will not stand for such action.”
While Mnuchin did not say whether China had been informed of the sanctions beforehand, officials told The Washington Post that the U.S. recently submitted a list of suspicious firms to China, giving the nation 30 days to respond. Although China reportedly came back with a claim that it was taking action, “the Trump administration found the response to be insufficient,” The Post writes. Still, Mnuchin was careful to note that the latest round of sanctions was “in no way targeting China.” He added: “We look forward to working closely with the government of China to stop illicit financing involving North Korea.”