Beijing responded with criticism of U.S. North Korea policy after President Donald Trump praised China Thursday for its steps to rein in North Korea.
The president signed a new executive order expanding the power of the Department of the Treasury to impose sanctions on the rogue North Korean regime.
“The new executive order will cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea’s efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind,” Trump said at a press conference. The administration is giving other countries a choice: do business with either the U.S. or North Korea, but not both.
While the new executive order could impact China, the North Korean regime’s largest benefactor, Trump and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin both stressed that this move targets only one country: North Korea.
The president actually praised China for instructing banks to stop doing business with North Korea, which Reuters reported hours before the press briefing. “I want to just say, and thank President Xi of China for the very bold move he made today. That was a somewhat unexpected move and we appreciate it,” Trump said.
“We are consistently opposed to unilateral sanctions outside the framework of the U.N. Security Council,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang said Friday. “Our position is clear and consistent.”
Lu also explained that reports on the latest actions of Chinese banks are “inconsistent with the facts.” He said that China has always implemented United Nations sanctions fully and appropriately. It is unclear if Chinese banks are not actually taking the reported steps or if China simply does not want to admit that it has not always faithfully implemented sanctions.
If Chinese banks are engaging in illegal business with North Korea, the Trump administration’s new executive order gives the Department of the Treasury broad powers to blacklist those financial institutions and any other entity that aids the regime.
Washington and Pyongyang are currently in a war of words. Trump warned Tuesday that the America will “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatens the U.S. or its allies, and Kim Jong Un responded Friday, threatening to “tame” Trump “with fire.”
“All relevant parties should remain restrained, strive to ease the situation and not provoke each other,” the foreign ministry spokesman said in response.
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