US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, will tell his counterparts in China that US is ready to increase sanctions against Chinese banks and companies that do business with North Korea. US is tired of Chinese companies helping North Korea in its weapons program. Tillerson will also engage in issues such as trade, Taiwan, the US deployment of a defensive missile system and more.
None of these issues is as dangerous as the situation with North Korea. Pyongyang has accelerated its nuclear program with the aim of reaching US. CNN reports that Bruce Klingner said that China has been part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
Acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner stated that discussions between Rex Tillerson and his Chinese counterpart about North Korea have already been taking place. They are looking at the next steps to put pressure on the regime. Xiao Qian, the Director General of the Asian Affairs department, said the Chinese hoped the US would not move forward with the new penalties.
What does China mean for North Korea?
China represents about 90% of North Korea's economic activity. Chinese companies that do business with the isolated country can operate as front companies that allow North Korea to export weaponry and other items, and import goods. US officials said the administration is considering targeting those Chinese firms with sanctions. In the mid-2000s, the Bank of China challenged the Chinese government and cut off its interaction with North Korea to avoid US sanctions.
The Commerce Department stated that a Chinese tech firm, ZTE, would pay a $1.2 billion fine for violating sanctions by selling equipment to North Korea and Iran. In September, the Obama administration targeted a Chinese company, Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Co. Ltd, for ties to North Korea. This was the first time the Obama administration hit a Chinese firm with sanctions for dealing with North Korea and supporting its nuclear program.