Can the US truly be this stupid?
The US is threatening China with sanctions. Last week Nikki Haley made the threat at the UN Security Council – though she did not mention China by name. And now the proverbial "senior US officials" have leaked to Reuters that the Trump administration is drawing up sanctions that will be imposed on China if the latter can't make North Korea capitulate before the US.
It's not exactly clear if the sanctions being drawn up are seriously meant to be implemented, or if they are just a stick designed to make China agree to even tougher North Korea sanctions. Seeing how brainless and prone to bullying the US is, the China sanctions probably have a decent chance of being put in place either way.
The sanctions would prevent smaller Chinese banks which do business with North Korea access to the US market. The large Chinese banks would be left untouched. Seeing how it's hard to believe provincial Chinese banks do much business with the US anyway the sanctions would be more symbolic than actual, but I don't think Beijing will care.
The Chinese are highly patriotic and highly sensitive to slights from the west. If the goal is to show China it has a lot in common with Russia, this is the way to do it.
Frustrated that China has not done more to rein in North Korea, the Trump administration could impose new sanctions on small Chinese banks and other firms doing business with Pyongyang within weeks, two senior U.S. officials said.
The U.S. measures would initially hit Chinese entities considered "low-hanging fruit," including smaller financial institutions and "shell" companies linked to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, said one of the officials, while declining to name the targets.
It would leave larger Chinese banks untouched for now, the official said.
The timing and scope of the U.S. action will depend heavily on how China responds to pressure for tougher steps against North Korea when U.S. and Chinese officials meet for a high-level economic dialogue in Washington on Wednesday, the administration sources told Reuters.
President Donald Trump and his top aides have signaled growing impatience with China over North Korea, especially since it last week test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile, which experts say could put all of Alaska in range for the first time.
U.S. officials have also warned that China could face U.S. trade and economic pressure - something Trump has held in abeyance since taking office in January - unless it does more to restrain its neighbor.
The so-called secondary sanctions now being considered are a way for the United States to apply targeted economic pressure on companies in countries with ties to North Korea by denying them access to the U.S. market and financial system.
Word of the sanctions plan comes as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley seeks to overcome resistance from China and Russia to a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing stiffer international sanctions on Pyongyang.
The targets now being weighed for sanctions would come from a list of firms numbering “substantially more than 10” that Trump shared with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a Florida summit in April and which U.S. experts have continued to compile for review, according to one of the officials.
The administration has yet to see what it considers a sufficient response from China.
"The president is losing patience with China," the official said, adding that there would be a "more aggressive approach to sanctioning Chinese entities ... in the not-too-distant future."
Actually the US has already imposed miniscule sanctions last month, which Beijing wasted no time in slamming:
In late June, Washington imposed secondary sanctions on two Chinese citizens and a shipping company for helping North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and accused a regional Chinese bank, the Bank of Dandong, of laundering money for Pyongyang.
Fresh U.S. sanctions would be aimed at sending a message to Beijing of Washington’s resolve to act further on its own.
But they would stop short, at least for now, of the kind of broad “sectoral” sanctions Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, secured through unilateral and international action against Iran to pressure it into negotiations to curb its nuclear program.
Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to Washington, said on Monday that secondary sanctions were "not acceptable."
"Such actions are obstructing cooperation between China and the U.S. and lead to questions about the real intentions of the U.S. side,” according to a transcript of his remarks from the Chinese embassy.