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Washington targets Chinese firms in new round of North Korea-related sanctions

Washington targets Chinese firms in new round of North Korea-related sanctions
The US has slapped a fresh batch of sanctions on China over an alleged violation of the US embargo against North Korea. It happened less than a month after Trump hailed Beijing for being “very helpful” in dealing with DRPK.

Two Chinese shipping companies –Dalian Haibo and Liaoning Danxing– were added to the US Treasury’s blacklist on Thursday, over what was called using “deceptive practices” to help Pyongyang procure certain goods. The Treasury’s statement did not provide any details on the nature of the goods in question but said that one company had cooperated with a North Korean trading firm while another was operating in the DRPK’s transportation industry.

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Washington also issued an updated “shipping advisory,” which provided guidance to other nations and businesses on how to “avoid illicit North Korean maritime trade.” The document in particular urged states and companies to exercise caution while dealing with certain vessels, which the US believes are involved in what it considers illegal trade with North Korea.

The lists of such vessels particularly included two Russian ships, apart from dozens of vessels from North Korea and several African countries. The Treasury, however, stressed that the document itself was “not a sanctions list.”

The move came less than a month after Trump’s summit with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which the US president still hailed as “progress”, even though the two sides failed to reach any agreement – precisely because they could agree on the terms for removing US-imposed sanctions on Pyongyang.

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Following the summit, Trump also told journalists about his phone call with China’s leader, Xi Jinping, which seemed unusually cordial in light of the ongoing US-China trade dispute. Still, Trump said that the trade talks between the two nations are “in advanced stages” and praised China for being “very, very helpful … with North Korea.”

The latest developments, however, show that, despite all the perceived progress, Washington is still not ready to abandon its sanctions policy, which by now has turned into a sort of a routine in many respects.

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