Published: Fri, June 30, 2017
World Media | By Joan Schultz

Treasury Department announces sanctions against Chinese bank

Treasury Department announces sanctions against Chinese bank

The Trump administration has blacklisted a Chinese bank accused of illicit dealings with North Korea.

"The Department of the Treasury is committed to protecting the USA financial system from North Korean abuse and maximizing pressure on the government of North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs", said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The Treasury's move will "require United States banks to ensure that the Bank of Dandong does not access the U.S. financial system directly or indirectly through other foreign banks", Mnuchin said.

The Treasury announcement said Dandong had been identified as "a foreign bank of primary money laundering concern" which had been "facilitating millions of dollars of transactions for companies involved in North Korea's WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and ballistic missile programs". Basically, the USA believes that North Korea is able to make investments and purchases by funneling its currency through this bank. We are in no way targeting China with these actions.

The Treasury Department unveiled new sanctions on a Chinese company and two Chinese citizens tied to North Korea Thursday in response to North Korea's weapons program and its disregard for U.N. Security Council resolutions. The sanctions freeze any U.S. assets it has and ban Americans and American companies from doing business with it. It named the two individual as Sun Wei and Li Hong Ri.

The sanctions freeze any assets of these individuals on american soil and forbidden to have commercial relations with them. But make no mistake - this is a clear message to the Chinese government.

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Anthony Ruggiero, a sanctions expert and former Treasury Department official, described it as a small Chinese bank "sitting at the heart" of trade between North Korea and China. "Part of it is reputational - this is a signal that the USA is not happy about what China is doing".

"If Trump wants to get serious about applying greater pressure on North Korea, at this point that will require a more coercive attitude toward China", Ratner said. At least I know China tried!' Trump tweeted on June 20.

Consider this the opening salvo of the administration's new strategy.

According to a press release from the Treasury, these initiatives "have been taken in response to the circumvention ongoing worldwide sanctions by North Korea, as well as the development of weapons of mass destruction".

Washington has repeatedly urged China to exert more economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea. "The threat of sanctions actually convinced China to reach a deal with the U.S. whereby they promised that they would not use cyber-enabled threats to gain commercial advantage", Glaser explains. The 19th Party Congress, where Xi will seek to consolidate his power and where the Communist Party will determine the country's policy priorities for the next five years, is this fall.

It means the bank will now be prevented from having accounts or doing business with United States financial institutions. It cited a United Nations expert panel as saying the company has violated a ban on trade in luxury goods with the North. But Beijing has repeatedly said it's influence is limited and that it is doing all it can.

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