The US will impose unilateral sanctions on one Chinese bank, two individuals and one shipping company over their alleged "illicit financing" and "continued support" of North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced on Thursday at the White House.
The Department of Treasury announced Thursday sanctions against a Chinese bank that has allegedly laundered millions of dollars for North Korea.
Earlier this week, the USA also downgraded China's human trafficking status, putting it on par with North Korea as among the world's worst nations for human trafficking, saying Beijing failed to end its complicity in Pyongyang's export of forced labor.
"We are in no way targeting China with these actions", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at a briefing.
"This is not directed at China, this is directed at a bank, as well as individuals and entities in China", he told reporters.
Amid growing tension with North Korea, the United States is increasing pressure on Chinese financial players.
'We are committed to targeting North Korea's eternal enablers, ' he said, 'and maximizing economic pressure on the regime, until it ceases its nuclear and ballistic missile programs'.
Its approach is echoed by South Korea's dovish new President Moon Jae-In who arrived in Washington late Wednesday on his first foreign visit since taking office earlier this month.
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Trump was heaping economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang "in order to change their calculus", the official said.
"If Trump wants to get serious about applying greater pressure on North Korea, at this point that will require a more coercive attitude toward China", Ratner said.
Mr. Mnuchin would not say if the United States warned China about the sanctions, but he said they were not meant as any sort of message to the Chinese government.
OFAC is also designating Dalian Global Unity Shipping Co., Ltd. (Dalian Global Unity) for sanctions for operating in the transportation industry in the North Korean economy. And it's also said to be involved in luxury goods smuggling incidents.
-Chinese national Sun Wei, said to have been running a cover company for North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank, which is already subject to USA sanctions.
Another Chinese citizen, Li Hong Ri, is being sanctioned for cooperating with a Beijing-based official who had already been sanctioned for procuring items and conducting financial transactions on North Korea's behalf.
Trump has been pushing for tougher sanctions against Pyongyang to curb its nuclear ambitions and his administration has said military action was a possibility.