China asks US to lift N Korea sanctions, warns of deteriorating ties

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 23 Aug 2017, 21:47:17
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China asks US to lift N Korea sanctions, warns of deteriorating ties

BEIJING, Aug 23: China demanded the United States immediately withdraw a package of sanctions on companies and individuals trading with North Korea on Wednesday, and said the decision by the Trump administration will damage Sino-US ties, reports The Washington Post.

The Treasury Department placed sanctions Tuesday on 10 companies and six individuals from China and Russia that it said had conducted business with North Korea in ways that advanced the country's missile and nuclear weapons program.

But China's Foreign Ministry insisted its government had fully implemented UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea, and would punish anyone caught violating the Security Council sanctions under Chinese law.

It added that it opposed sanctions outside the framework of the Security Council.

"China especially opposes any country conducting 'long-arm jurisdiction' over Chinese entities and individuals," spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news conference.  

"Measures taken by the United States are not helpful in solving the problem and unhelpful to mutual trust and cooperation. We ask the United States to stop the relevant wrong practices immediately."

Yet despite China's professed opposition to unilateral sanctions, it has not hesitated to punish other countries through trade if they refuse to do Beijing's bidding.

Indeed, China is currently engaged in a major blockade of South Korean companies because it opposes the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system, known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD), in that country.

Among the sanctioned companies was Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Material, also known as Dandong Chengtai, one of the largest importers of North Korean coal, while its main shareholder was also individually targeted.

In a related complaint filed by the Justice Department on Tuesday, the U.S. government is seeking $4 million from the company, accusing it of importing North Korean coal and then sending a wide array of products - cellphones, luxury items, rubber and sugar - to North Korea.

In August, the Security Council agreed to a total ban on coal imports from North Korea; in the past, a limited trade had been allowed, provided it was purchased from a sanctioned North Korean company and proven to be for "livelihood purposes."

In practice, though, experts say that loophole was exploited to facilitate a profitable trade that generated $1 billion a year for North Korea.

In a June report by the Washington-based research group C4ADS, Dandong Zhicheng was cited among a group of Chinese companies that are pivotal to North Korea's ability to circumvent international sanctions and buy illicit goods. The report said targeting those companies could even cause North Korea's entire overseas network to collapse.

Dandong Zhicheng alone accounted for 9.2 percent of North Korea's total exports to China last year, according to documentation that C4ADS reviewed. Almost all - 97 percent - of this was North Korean coal, totaling about $250 million annually.

China's imports from North Korea fell to $880 million in the six months that ended in June, down 13 percent from a year earlier, official figures show. But Chinese exports rose 29 percent to $1.67 billion in the first six months of the year, pushing total trade between the two countries up 10 percent.
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