State-run Bank of China cuts ties to North Korean foreign trade

One of China’s biggest banks said Tuesday that it has halted business with a North Korean bank accused by the United States of financing Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programs in the latest sign of Beijing’s displeasure with its estranged ally.

The state-run Bank of China has notified the Foreign Trade Bank of North Korea that its account or accounts were being closed and that all financial transactions were being suspended, a bank spokeswoman said, reading a brief statement. The spokeswoman for the Beijing-based bank did not identify the number of accounts closed or provide further details.

The move comes as the Chinese leadership, installed last year, has shown growing frustration with North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, and the nuclear and missile tests his government has conducted, aggravating regional tensions. In recent months, Beijing has displayed willingness to work with Washington to apply pressure, signing on to U.N. sanctions and issuing a statement with U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry last month urging North Korea to abandon its nuclear programs.

China is North Korea’s economic lifeline, providing nearly all of its fuel and most of its trade. North Korea’s economic dependence on China is rising after a standoff with South Korea effectively shut an industrial park that was an important source of hard currency.

The Bank of China’s suspension of business further complicates the ability of the Foreign Trade Bank, North Korea’s main foreign exchange bank, to access a key financial market.

In March, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions against the Foreign Trade Bank, effectively cutting it off from the U.S. financial system, and urged Beijing to do the same.

The department called the bank a “key financial node” in North Korea’s programs to develop weapons of mass destruction. It said the Foreign Trade Bank had financed other banks and companies already targeted by sanctions, including assisting in millions of dollars in transactions for the Korean Mining Development Corp., a major arms dealer.

world

Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Comments
Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read World

world

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters