China demands US immediately withdraw N. Korea sanctions, warns will hit ties – Washington Post

 In World
China demanded on Wednesday that the United States immediately withdraw new sanctions on companies and individuals trading with North Korea, saying such punitive measures will damage Sino-U.S. ties.

The Treasury Department imposed sanctions Tuesday on 10 companies and six individuals from China and Russia 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 that its government had fully implemented U.N. 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 said at a routine 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.” 

TIMELINE: Trump’s North Korea policy

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 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 South Korea.

Among the sanctioned Chinese companies was Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Material, also known as Dandong Chengtai, one of the largest importers of North Korean coal, while its main shareholder also was 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 an 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 the coal was not 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.

Kim Jong Un has tested nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles at an unprecedented rate since he came into power. Yet, the country is under some of the toughest sanctions ever. This is how the regime is able to funnel billions of dollars into its nuclear program. (Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

In a June report by the Washington-based research group C4ADS, Dandong Zhicheng was cited among those 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 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. 

The company’s website says it has several interests, including metals, chemicals, rubber, furniture, computing equipment, office supplies, clothing and toys. It says it does a “small amount of business” in North Korean border trade.

The company’s main shareholder, Chi Yupeng, won an award from the Dandong city government as a leading entrepreneur in 2005, another award for his “remarkable contribution to enterprise” in 2008 and a third for “starting a foreign trade enterprise” in 2009.

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