President Donald Trump’s administration is looking for ways to pressure North Korea to stop developing a nuclear-weapons program, and some American analysts warn that the search may end on the doorsteps of China’s biggest oil companies and banks.
China is North Korea’s largest trading partner, playing a vital role in keeping Kim Jong Un’s regime afloat. Two-way trade increased about 11 percent to $2.55 billion in the first half of 2017, compared with a year earlier.
The U.S. successfully lobbied for stricter UN sanctions against North Korea this month, and the Treasury Department on Aug. 22 sanctioned Chinese and Russian entities it accused of assisting Kim’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. U.S. prosecutors also want to recover $11 million from companies based in China and Singapore that they accused of conspiring with North Korea to evade sanctions.