Under Pressure: Major Chinese Banks Tighten Limitations on DPRK-held Accounts

Under Pressure: Major Chinese Banks Tighten Limitations on DPRK-held Accounts
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REUTERS/ Kim Kyung-HoonPolitics01:18 11.09.2017(updated 04:44 11.09.2017) Get short URL
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Beijing has reportedly ordered its banks to block transactions for accounts held in China by North Koreans, tightening an already firm grip on Pyongyang’s trade with the Asian powerhouse.

Branch offices of at least three major state banks in the border city of Yanji, Jilin province, China, have suspended many transactions through accounts held by North Koreans, in keeping with new international sanctions against the regime, Kyodo News reported over the weekend.

The Bank of China, the China Construction Bank and the Agricultural Bank of China have blocked North Koreans from making deposits or remittances, as well as from opening new accounts.

Account holders can still withdraw money held in those accounts, however, according to reports.

“Chinese authorities have made no distinction between North Korean consular officials, laborers, or traders; all are banned from opening accounts,” a local source told the Daily NK.

The move signals that China may have been pushed beyond its limit of patience by North Korea’s ongoing nuclear and missile programs, after the latest in the ongoing nuclear tests was conducted September 3.

The US has long sought Beijing to increase pressure on the secluded state. Many in Washington seek for the US to impose “secondary sanctions” on Chinese banks that hold money for companies doing business with or in North Korea.

The decision to block some banking transactions with DPRK residents will severely damage Pyongyang’s already weakened trade with Beijing, but analysts say traders will invent barely-legal methods to bypass restrictions, including using cash or goods for barter.

The US currently seeks to impose the toughest UN sanctions yet on North Korea, including a complete oil embargo and a freeze on the global assets of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and those of his top cabinet officials.

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