U.S. sanctions official suggests more Chinese firms under investigation for dealings with N. Korea
By Chang Jae-soon
WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- The State Department's chief sanctions official strongly suggested Monday that the U.S. is investigating more Chinese firms over dealings with North Korea after imposing the first-ever sanctions on a Chinese company earlier this week in connection with Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.
"We're investigating. The Treasury and State are investigating a number of companies around the world," Daniel Fried, the department's coordinator for sanctions policy, said during a Senate hearing in response to a question whether additional Chinese firms are under investigation.
"There are no limits and there is no administration red line of exempt countries or companies. We go where the evidence takes us," he said before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific, led by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO).
Asked again if he meant more Chinese firms are under investigation, Fried said, "I wouldn't argue with you."
On Monday, the Treasury Department blacklisted China's Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Co. Ltd., its owner and three other company officials in a landmark move representing the first-ever sanctions on a Chinese entity over Pyongyang's weapons programs.
In addition to the Treasury Department sanctions that froze U.S.-based assets of the Chinese firm and the four officials, the Justice Department has also pressed criminal charges against them for "conspiring to evade U.S. economic sanctions" and "conspiracy to launder money instruments."
The sanctions could have powerful impacts on the North as they could scare other Chinese firms away from dealings with the North for fear that they could also be blacklisted by the U.S. Pyongyang has long used Chinese firms to skirt international sanctions.
Fried warned Chinese firms against dealings with the North.
"It will also be useful if Chinese banks and companies understood that increasingly dealing with North Korean companies, especially those that are sanctioned, is going to be risky, frankly not worth it," the official said.
"The best sanctions are those that do not have to be applied because the credible threat of sanctions acts as deterrent. The U.S. government's actions earlier this week demonstrate that we are in earnest and I can assure you that we are," he said.