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US Targets Chinese Firms for Dodging N. Korea Sanctions

US Targets Chinese Firms for Dodging N. Korea Sanctions

The Trump administration on Thursday sanctioned two Chinese shipping companies suspected of helping North Korea evade sanctions — the first targeted actions taken against Pyongyang since its nuclear negotiations with the U.S. in Hanoi last month ended without agreement.

“The maritime industry must do more to stop North Korea’s illicit shipping practices,” Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton tweeted. “Everyone should take notice and review their own activities to ensure they are not involved in North Korea’s sanctions evasion.”

The White House says the sanctions are evidence that the U.S. is maintaining pressure on North Korea in an effort to coax its leader, Kim Jong Un, to give up his nuclear weapons program.

The Treasury Department sanctioned Dalian Haibo International Freight Co. Ltd. and Liaoning Danxing International Forwarding Co. Ltd. for using deceptive methods to circumvent international and U.S. sanctions and the U.S. commitment to implementing existing U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Calls to the two companies rang without response Friday or were answered by people who immediately hung up the phone.

Treasury, in coordination with the State Department and the U.S. Coast Guard, also updated a North Korea shipping advisory, adding dozens of vessels thought to be doing ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean tankers or exported North Korean coal in violation of sanctions.

Two senior administration officials, who briefed reporters only on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. policy on North Korea, said illegal ship-to-ship transfers that violate U.S. and international sanctions have increased and not all countries, including China, are implementing the restrictions. They said the deceptive practices include disabling or manipulating ship identification systems, repainting the names on vessels and falsifying cargo documents.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement that fully implementing the U.N. resolutions is key to getting Kim to give up his nuclear weapons program. “Treasury will continue to enforce our sanctions, and we are making it explicitly clear that shipping companies employing deceptive tactics to mask illicit trade with North Korea expose themselves to great risk,” Mnuchin said.

However, shortly before 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Trump tweeted that he will nix additional sanctions on North Korea by the Treasury. He did not give a reason why.

China to Investigate Firms Sanctioned

China said Friday it will look into charges against two Chinese firms sanctioned by the U.S. because they are suspected of helping North Korea evade sanctions.

China upholds all United Nations Security Council sanctions against the North over its nuclear and missile programs, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing. He said China will deal with any verified transgressors and “launch an investigation according to our domestic laws.”

However, Geng said Beijing opposes unilateral sanctions on Chinese firms such as those imposed by the U.S. separate from those of the U.N.

The Trump administration on Thursday sanctioned two shipping companies — Dalian Haibo International Freight Co. Ltd. and Liaoning Danxing International Forwarding Co. Ltd. — for using deceptive methods to circumvent international and U.S. sanctions and the U.S. commitment to implementing U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The U.S. Treasury sanctions against the Chinese companies were the first targeted actions against Pyongyang since its nuclear negotiations with the U.S. in Hanoi last month ended without agreement.

Calls to Dalian Haibo and Liaoning Danxing rang without response Friday or were answered by people who immediately hung up the phone.

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