Why Trump just slapped new sanctions on Chinese banks

In a statement, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pledged USA commitment to maximiSe pressure on North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile program, CNN reports.

"Treasurys Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has found the Bank of Dandong to be a foreign financial institution of primary money laundering concern under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act", he said.

Bank of Dandong which "acts as a conduit for illicit North Korean financial activity, is a foreign bank of primary money laundering concern", and will be severed from the U.S. financial system, the Treasury said in a statement.

The sanctions also come one week after the U.S. and China failed to announce a joint action plan to freeze North Korea's nuclear programme after their first Diplomacy and Security Dialogue in Washington, but reached a consensus on not doing business with any UN-designated North Korean entities.

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Dandong - a northeastern Chinese city on the North Korean border - is a gateway for trade with isolated North Korea.

In addition, Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control designated two Chinese individuals and one Chinese company in response to North Korea's ongoing WMD development and continued violations of UN Security Council resolutions.

The senior White House official who briefed reporters Wednesday on the condition of anonymity said Trump remains "determined to follow through" on the U.S.' efforts to crank up the diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea.

While the individuals and institution designated in Thursday's actions are Chinese, Mnuchin emphasized that the sanctions were meant to target North Korea, not Beijing. The step comes ahead of President Trump's visit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

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'This is not directed at China, ' he said.

On North Korea, Mr Trump "feels like he gave China a chance to make a difference" but has not seen enough results. Treasury alleged that some of those transactions were related to North Korea's missile programs. It cited a United Nations expert panel as saying the company has violated a ban on trade in luxury goods with the North.

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.

The sanctions also hit two Chinese citizens, Sun Wei and Long Hong Ri, who have worked to help North Korea evade sanctions by facilitating financial transactions, according to the Treasury Department.

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