U.S. Sanctions Nine Chinese Firms for North Korea Ties

By Jiang Mengjie and Lin Jinbing

The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced its largest North Korea-related sanctions package on Friday, including nine Chinese firms, according to an announcement on its website.

The U.S. Treasury has sanctioned 27 entities, 28 vessels and one individual, aiming to disrupt North Korean shipping and trading companies, which are seen as tools used by the regime to push forward its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The nine Chinese firms sanctioned include two on the Chinese mainland, namely the Shandong province-based Weihai World-Shipping Freight Agency Co. Ltd., and the Shanghai-based Shanghai Dongfeng Shipping Co. Ltd.

Also included were five companies based in Hong Kong, namely Liberty Shipping Co. Ltd., Chang An Shipping & Technology Ltd., Hongxiang Marine (Hong Kong) Ltd., Shen Zhong International Shipping Ltd., and Huaxin Shipping (HongKong) Ltd.; as well as two based in Taiwan, namely Pro-Gain Group Corp., and Kingly Won International Co. Ltd.

Pro-Gain and Kingly Won are both controlled by Taiwan businessman Tsang Yung Yuan, who was also sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury.

Other firms and vessels sanctioned are located, registered or flagged in North Korea, Singapore, the Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama and Comoros.

"(The) Treasury is aggressively targeting all illicit avenues used by North Korea to evade sanctions, including taking decisive action to block the vessels, shipping companies, and entities across the globe that work on North Korea's behalf," said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

As a result of the sanctions, any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of U.S. persons or those within the U.S. must be blocked, and U.S. persons are prohibited from dealing with any of the designated parties, said the U.S. Treasury.

The Treasury alleged that North Korea often employs deceptive shipping practices to facilitate illicit coal and fuel transports, including falsifying and concealing information displayed on North Korean vessels and conducting ship-to-ship transfers, a practice prohibited by the United Nations Security Council.

One recent example of a ship-to-ship exchange is a series of photos showing a ship marked with Chinese characters transferring cargo to a North Korean vessel. These photos were taken on Feb. 16 by a Japanese maritime surveillance plane and an escort vessel.

The Security Council slapped three sets of sanctions on North Korea last year: one on Aug. 5, aimed at the iron, coal and fishing industries; another on Sept. 11, squeezing textile trade and oil supplies; and the latest on Dec. 22, targeting refined petroleum products.

Due to the sanctions, China’s trade with North Korea fell to $215.97 million in January, the lowest since June 2014, according to data from the General Administration of Customs released on Friday.

Contact reporter Lin Jinbing (

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