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China opposes secondary sanctions against firms with North Korea ties

By Elizabeth Shim
China opposes secondary sanctions against firms with North Korea ties
Beijing voiced its opposition to the idea of penalizing Chinese firms for trading with North Korea on Wednesday. North Korea relies heavily on Chinese partners for trade and economic assistance. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

May 3 (UPI) -- China objected to secondary sanctions on North Korea despite U.S. interest in penalizing Chinese firms that abet Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

"China is opposed to any measures that damage Chinese interests," Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman said Wednesday. "We have consistently opposed the use of a country's domestic law to place sanctions on other countries."

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The statement comes a day after U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, said there "may well be" a role for sanctions in punishing Chinese companies.

"I would hope that recent events have convinced China that they would take this much more seriously," Branstad told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

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On Wednesday, Beijing's foreign ministry said that while the government "does not assume North Korea will again conduct a nuclear test," there "are clear stipulations in the United Nations Security Council sanctions Resolution 2321 that states a response will follow in the event of a North Korea nuclear test or ballistic missile launch" that does not necessitate secondary sanctions.

Pyongyang most recently tested a ballistic missile early Saturday that ended in failure.

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Resolution 2321, which passed in November at the U.N. Security Council, has so far been met with compliance from more than 50 U.N. member states, Voice of America reported Wednesday.

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The Chinese foreign ministry also warned the United States against escalating tensions on the peninsula, following reports that confirmed two B-1B supersonic bombers had been deployed to South Korean airspace.

"We urge all concerned parties to exercise calm and restraint," said Beijing spokesman Geng Shuang.

The B-1B Lancers conducted exercises with the U.S. supercarrier Carl Vinson. At a training center in South Korea, the aircraft carried out a precision bombing drill, Yonhap reported.

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China has also voiced its strong opposition to the deployment of U.S. missile defense in South Korea.

China's Global Times reported Wednesday the Chinese military is responding to the measure by deploying the Dongfeng-41 missile. The intercontinental ballistic missile can travel a maximum distance of 8,700 miles and can reach the United States, according to the report.

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