China tightens banking screws on North Korea but won’t enact total total ban sought by Trump

In a victory of sorts for the international community, the Chinese government has agreed to tighten its banking rules with North Korea, imposing and enforcing newly passed economic sanctions on Pyongyang. But Beijing is not prepared to completely isolate the North Korean regime financially, as the Trump administration has asked.

On Thursday, President Trump said Chinese President Xi Jinping told him he ordered Chinese banks to stop conducting business with North Korean entities. Trump praised Xi’s decision as “very bold” and “somewhat unexpected.”

On Friday, however, Chinese officials pushed back a bit, saying that Xi had not agreed to go quite that far.

“As far as I know, what you have mentioned just now is not consistent with the facts,” said government spokesman Lu Kang, in response to a question from a reporter regarding Trump’s comments.

 

Previously, experts had said that Chinese banks had been instructed by Beijing not to allow North Korean citizens or businesses to open new accounts.

Even if Beijing ordered a complete severing of all economic ties with North Korea, the countries share an 880-mile border and smuggling is said to be prolific.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un relies on such smuggling activities as a means of raising hard currency for his weapons programs. [source]

Why it’s on our radar: Information in this article helps satisfy Priority Intelligence Requirement 3: What are the latest indicators of a U.S.-North Korea war?  Each week in our Strategic Intelligence Summary, we gauge the likelihood and scope of conflict with Russia, China, North Korea, and in the Middle East, and track the latest developments in each region.  Subscribe here to receive our premium intelligence products prepared by Intelligence and special operations veterans.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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