WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump has told Chinese President Xi Jinping that the United States will impose sanctions on Chinese companies with links to North Korea’s nuclear and missile development if Beijing fails to crack down on such entities, Trump’s top diplomat said Wednesday.
The United States has provided China with a list of entities Washington believes Beijing needs to take action against, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a hearing at the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“We have asked that they take the action, but President Trump has also been very clear with President Xi that if they either don’t want to take the action or they do not take the action, we will act on our own,” he said.
Tillerson made the comments following a news report that the Trump administration has asked Beijing to take action against “nearly 10 Chinese companies and individuals” to curb their trading with North Korea as part of “a strategy to decapitate the key networks that support Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.”
The United States has indicated the Treasury Department could impose unilateral sanctions on some of these entities before the end of the summer if China does not act, the Wall Street Journal said in its Tuesday edition, quoting senior U.S. officials.
The officials, however, declined to name the entities being targeted.
The United States and its regional allies have criticized China’s perceived reluctance to use its economic leverage over North Korea to pressure Pyongyang to curtail its nuclear ambitions.
On Wednesday, Tillerson suggested Chinese cooperation in applying increased pressure on North Korea has been insufficient, saying it has been “notable” but “uneven.”
China accounts for about 90 percent of North Korea’s trade and is a major supplier of oil for the country. But in the eyes of the United States and other countries, China has been reluctant to use its influence over North Korea to rein in its growing nuclear and missile threats.
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