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 Treasury Department says that the Bank of Dandong is a "primary money-laundering concern".
The Treasury Department declared the Bank of Dandong a 'primary money-laundering concern, ' proposing to sever it entirely from the US financial system following a 60-day review period.
The announcement comes as the Trump administration is seeking to up the pressure against North Korea as it continues to test missile technology and after it released an American college student from imprisonment who shortly died after returning to the U.S.
Experts who have closely watched the new administration's work to encourage China to apply heavier pressure on North Korea have long predicted Trump and his advisers would eventually hit a wall - just as past administrations have in similar efforts to elicit stronger cooperation from the Chinese on the North Korean nuclear issue.
The Treasury Department unveiled new sanctions on a Chinese company and two Chinese citizens tied to North Korea Thursday in response to North Korea's weapons program and its disregard for U.N. Security Council resolutions.
For months, former US officials and experts warned that President Donald Trump's plan to rely on China to pressure North Korea into giving up its nuclear weapons was futile.
The US Treasury said North Korea continues to try to evade global sanctions in pursuit of its weapons program.
China has a strategic interest in keeping North Korea stable, in part because it acts as a buffer against having rivals like South Korea and the USA right at its border, and in part because it fears that instability or regime collapse could lead to a massive influx of refugees pouring over the border into China.
"I wish we would have a little more help with respect to North Korea from China, but that doesn't seem to be working out", Trump said last week after tweeting that the Chinese campaign to pressure North Korea - however limited - "has not worked out".
Also blacklisted was Dalian Global Unity Shipping Co.
At a recent summit in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that China has a "diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region". And it's also said to be involved in luxury goods smuggling incidents.
He says the U.S.is committed to cutting off all illegal funds to North Korea, which conducts 90 percent of its foreign trade through China.