On Tuesday, the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control introduced new sanctions against 10 entities, including Chinese ones, for violating UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on North Korea.
The Treasury also designated three Chinese coal companies collectively responsible for importing almost half a billion dollars' worth of North Korean coal between 2013 and 2016.
Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control added six individuals and 10 companies and other entities to its sanctions list, saying they have helped people previously penalized for North Korea's weapons development, facilitated North Korea's energy sector and enabled entities to bypass sanctions to get access to the US and global financial system.
President Donald Trump has sought to pressure China - North Korea's top trading partner - to use greater leverage on its neighbor and ally, though Kim's regime often makes decisions contrary to Beijing's wishes.
"The U.S. action will not help the solution of the problem as well as the mutual trust and cooperation with China", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told media during a regular news briefing, according to AFP.
At the same time, Hua said the "extremely tense" situation on the Korean Peninsula "has shown some signs of abating" thanks to the concerted efforts of various parties, though it "remains highly complex and sensitive".
"We must continue to isolate the regime, cut off its economic activity and pressure nations, particularly China and Russian Federation, whose companies and citizens help the North generate the resources used to further its aggressive nuclear programme", said Congressman Dan Donovan who serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
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He, however, is now focusing on what he calls "maximum pressure and sanctions" on North Korea following its continued provocations.
The new measures target several Chinese companies which are alleged to have purchased North Korean minerals in breach of United Nations resolutions.
The Treasury Department also sanctioned Dandong Zhicheng's director Chi Yupeng, a Chinese national accused of moving cash for North Korean interests.
The sanctions also hit those who help individuals previously penalized for involvement in North Korea's weapons program and assist the country in sending workers overseas.
Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, told reporters on a visit to South Korea that while a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear problem is the priority, diplomacy must be backed with "credible combat power".
The Justice Department filed two legal complaints seeking $11 million from two companies, one based in China and one based in Singapore, for allegedly laundering money for North Korea, The Washington Post reports.
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