US sanctions Chinese bank for laundering N Korean cash

 
A sign displaying the Chinese (L) and North Korean (R) flags is pictured by the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, which connects the Chinese city of Dandong, whose bank has been sanctioned by the US Treasury, and the North Korean town of Sinuiju. (Photo: AFP/Mark Ralston)

WASHINGTON: The United States slapped unprecedented sanctions on Thursday (Jun 29) on a Chinese bank accused of laundering North Korean cash after President Donald Trump said Beijing’s efforts to put the brakes on Pyongyang’s nuclear drive had failed.

As South Korea’s new president visited Washington, the Treasury Department announced the Bank of Dandong would be severed from the US financial system for acting “as a conduit for illicit North Korean financial activity.”

And while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the move was not targeted at China’s government, it is likely to infuriate Beijing, which says it has been unstinting in its efforts to ease tensions with North Korea.

The announcement came on the same day that it emerged the Trump adminisration had approved US$1.3 billion in arms sales to Beijing’s archrival Taiwan and as the State Department voiced concerns about basic freedoms in Hong Kong under Chinese rule.

Since early in his administration, Trump has pushed China to do more to rein in the North Korean regime and its leader Kim Jong-un.

However, he raised eyebrows last week when he thanked his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for Beijing’s help but then concluded that Xi’s efforts had “not worked out.” Trump did not spell out what he intended to do next.

The Treasury announcement said Dandong had been identified as “a foreign bank of primary money-laundering concern” that had been “facilitating millions of dollars of transactions for companies involved in North Korea’s WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and ballistic missile programmes.”

The bank will now be prevented from having accounts or doing business with US financial institutions.

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 smuggle banned luxury goods into the country.

“This is not directed at China, this is directed at a bank, as well as individuals and entities in China,” Mnuchin told reporters.

‘FOLLOW THE MONEY’

But he warned that Treasury will “follow the money” and take action where needed to cut off illegal finance. “If we find other activity, we will sanction other entities. Nobody’s off limits.”

China, which borders North Korea and is considered its only major ally, argues that negotiations are the best way to persuade Pyongyang to halt its nuclear and missile activities.

China’s approach is echoed by South Korea’s dovish new president Moon Jae-In, who arrived in Washington late Wednesday on his first foreign visit since taking office earlier this month.

Moon was due to dine with Trump on Thursday night, after meeting earlier with Congressional leaders as he pushes his policy of engagement with the North.

Speaking to reporters on his flight to the US, Moon said Seoul and Washington should offer concessions to Pyongyang if it complies with their demands, according to multiple South Korean reports.

“Without rewarding North Korea for its bad actions, South Korea and the United States should closely consult what they may give the North in return for a nuclear freeze,” he said.

‘TO CHANGE THEIR CALCULUS’

Speaking alongside Moon in Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters that the US and South Korea “shared concerns” about North Korea.

Moon responded by saying that when it comes to humanitarian issues, “we must cross boundaries and all party lines, and all try to unite together as one.”

Trump has been pushing for tougher sanctions against Pyongyang to curb its nuclear ambitions. His administration has said military action was a possibility.

But US officials have played down the idea that Washington and Seoul are at odds over their approach, with one senior administration official insisting Thursday that they “share precisely the same goal, which is the complete dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes.”

Trump was heaping economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang “in order to change their calculus,” the official said.

‘NO EVIDENCE’ OF REDUCED THREAT

“Right now we see no evidence that they are seeking to reduce the threat from nuclear weapons or ballistic missile technology.”

When Trump and Moon hold formal talks on Friday, they are likely to discuss a controversial US missile defence system that has been set up in South Korea to guard against missile threats from the North.

Though parts of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system are already in place, Moon suspended further deployment following a furious campaign of economic sanctions and diplomatic protests by Beijing. Some analysts believe the Chinese see the system as part of a long-range US effort to contain China.

Source: AFP/ec

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This entry was posted in US - China relationship - Liên hệ Mỹ Trung and tagged , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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