Chinese foreign ministry on Wednesday warned that secondary sanctions by the U.S. targeting Chinese firms linked to North Korea would not help in resolving in North Korean issue, and urged Washington to withdraw them.
The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday issued new designations against entities and individuals in China, Russia, Singapore, and Namibia for links to North Korea’s weapons programs, mineral trade and use of overseas labor.
“The U.S. action will not help the solution of the problem as well as the mutual trust and cooperation with China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told media during a regular news briefing, according to AFP. “We urge the U.S. side to stop this wrongdoing and correct it.”
The Chinese embassy in Washington DC also raised opposition to measures.
“We strongly urge the U.S. to immediately correct its mistake, so as not to impact bilateral cooperation on relevant issues,” the embassy said in a statement.
“China opposes unilateral sanctions out of the UN Security Council framework, especially the ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ over Chinese entities and individuals exercised by any country in accordance with its domestic laws,” it added.
“If there are any Chinese companies or individuals suspected of violating Security Council resolutions, they will be investigated and treated in accordance with China’s domestic laws and regulations.”
The new measures target several Chinese companies which are alleged to have purchased North Korean minerals in breach of UN resolutions.
One Dandong-based company was sanctioned for purchasing sanctioned vanadium from North Korea, while three other Chinese companies “have sold, supplied, transferred, or purchased coal or metal,” from the DPRK between 2013 and 2016.
The OFAC press release did not say when the vanadium imports happened, though China has not reported buying the sanctioned mineral from North Korea since 2015.
Despite the opposition to the news sanctions, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also on Wednesday said it welcomed comments by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday praising North Korea for recent “restraint.”
Tillerson said he wanted to “acknowledge” that Pyongyang had not conducted missile tests since the adoption by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) of Resolution 2371 on August 5.
“China noted Secretary Tillerson’s attitude and his emphasis on dialogue between the DPRK and the U.S. in particular,” South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported quoting Hua as saying.
The spokesperson said the tensions on the Korean peninsula – which had previously been a “powder keg” – has “somewhat eased recently” due to international diplomatic efforts.
“But the DPRK and the U.S. which are parties directly involved in the North Korean nuclear issue – should exercise restraint as the situation on the Korean peninsula is still highly complex and sensitive,” Hua told media.
“The current situation requires dialogue rather than confrontation, peace rather than war, alleviation of the situation rather than mutual irritation,” she said, adding that this was the “common expectation and request of the international community.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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