United States considers sanctions on Chinese companies over North Korea

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The new measures would target select companies and minor financial firms but no big banks, and could be announced within a matter of weeks, according to the report.

Trump has complained that trade increased between the two despite calling on his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to use the nation's unique diplomatic and economic clout over North Korea as leverage.

China imported only 2.67 million metric tons of coal from North Korea in the first half of this year, a year-on-year drop of 74.5 percent, Huang noted.

But Beijing, as it has in the past, largely resisted Trump's demands.

President Donald Trump last week criticized China for its ties with North Korea's government following the launch of a test missile, saying that China's economic interests undermined its ability to challenge President Kim Jong-un's totalitarian regime.

China is nervous about a nuclear armed North Korea.

The new data reflects China's attempt to pull off a delicate balancing act between the US and North Korea, where it wants to prevent the regime collapsing because it worries about what that would mean for regional stability. He referred to "tough pressures" that China faces in its relationship with North Korea. "They've had numerous wars with Korea".

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"So much for China working with us - but we had to give it a try!" he added.

Sanctions are the only action so far that are specifically meant to pressure China on North Korea; arms sales and fleet movements have happened before and would have again sooner or later.

China insists none of its current trade with Pyongyang is in violation of global sanctions.

U.S. officials are set to meet Chinese officials for a high-level economic dialogue in Washington on Wednesday according to USA officials.

"Make no mistake, the Security Council's sanctions on [North Korea] can not be equated with all-encompassing economic sanctions".

The official also said that there may be an even "more aggressive approach to sanctioning Chinese entities.in the not-too-distant future".

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