China said Tuesday it is opposed to any country attempting to "enforce its domestic laws over China's enterprises and individuals," after the United States sanctioned a Chinese company for alleged support of North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program.
U.S. Treasury officials announced criminal charges and economic sanctions against a Chinese industrial machinery wholesaler, Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Developmental Company Limited (DHID).
The firm's chairwoman, Ma Xiaohong, and three top executives were charged Monday with conspiring to evade sanctions against North Korea, including by facilitating money laundering through U.S. financial institutions.
DHID also is under investigation by Chinese authorities for its connection with Kwangson Banking Corporation, a North Korean bank previously designated by the U.S. and United Nations for providing financial services in support of North Korea’s weapons proliferation.
“This shows we can work cooperatively with China; we both see it in our interests to apply greater pressure on North Korea,” State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said Monday. The DHID charges and economic restrictions, he added, were necessary to maintaining the integrity of broader sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by the United Nations and by the United States.
China supports UN sanctions
Asked about the move, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China was committed to upholding United Nations resolutions against North Korea, which mandate tough sanctions for its nuclear and missile tests.
Any person or company found in breach of the rules will be punished, and if necessary China will cooperate with other countries on this on the basis of mutual respect and equality, Geng told a daily news briefing.
"I want to stress that we oppose any country enacting so-called 'long-arm jurisdiction,' using its own domestic laws against a Chinese entity or individual," he added. "We have already communicated this position to the U.S. side."
While China is North Korea's sole major ally, it disapproves of its nuclear and missile programs and was angered by its latest nuclear test.
Tighter border controls
China signed on in March to the stiffest U.N. sanctions yet that limit trade with the North. It has tightened controls on cross-border flows of goods, but that hasn't allayed suspicions that North Korea still can conduct illicit business through China.
U.N. Security Council resolutions prohibit nuclear weapons development by the North and all ballistic missile activity.
International concern about Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs is deepening following its largest nuclear explosion ever earlier this month — its second test blast this year and its fifth overall.
North Korea's actions have spurred concern that the country is moving closer to achieving its goal — a missile with a nuclear warhead and a range long enough to reach the U.S. mainland.
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said China should "go into North Korea" to stop its nuclear plans, as China has all the power in the relationship.
Chinese spokesman Geng said the crux of the North Korea issue is not China, and that China has made great efforts to try to bring about denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Discussions are underway on a possible new U.N. sanctions resolution. The senior U.S. diplomat for Asia said on Friday he was confident an agreement would be reached before long to impose further sanctions and tighten existing ones.
Some material for this article came from Reuters.