China slammed the United States today for its decision to slap unprecedented sanctions on a Chinese bank accused of laundering North Korean cash. “We urge the US side to stop their wrongful actions on this issue to avoid any effect on other cooperation issues,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters during a regular press briefing.”We have stressed many times that we firmly oppose any unilateral sanctions,” he said, adding that Beijing had “comprehensively implemented” all UN Security Council measures on Pyongyang. The comments followed a decision yesterday by the US Treasury Department to sever the Bank of Dandong from the US financial system for acting “as a conduit for illicit North Korean financial activity.” The bank, it said, had been “facilitating millions of dollars of transactions for companies involved in North Korea’s WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and ballistic missile programs.”
The department also sanctioned two Chinese individuals said to have established front companies to facilitate financial transactions for North Korea, and a Chinese shipping company accused of helping to smuggle banned luxury goods into the country. The decision came after US president Donald Trump said Beijing’s efforts to put the brakes on Pyongyang’s nuclear drive had failed. In a tweet, he thanked his counterpart Xi Jinping for his work on the issue, but concluded that Chinese actions had “not worked out.”
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Speaking yesterday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that the sanctions were “not directed at China, this is directed at a bank, as well as individuals and entities in China.” Trump has been pushing for tougher sanctions against Pyongyang to curb its nuclear ambitions. His administration has said military action was a possibility. The announcement came on the same day that it emerged the Trump administration had approved USD 1.3 billion in arms sales to Taiwan, which Beijing claims as a breakaway province.