Trump thanks Xi for bank freeze on North Korea


A summary of the top news in Chinese politics and current affairs for September 21, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

“Again, I want to just say and thank President Xi from China for the very bold move he made today. It was a somewhat unexpected move, and we appreciate it.”

That is what U.S. President Donald Trump said in response to the news, reported by Reuters, that Chinese authorities had told banks to “stop providing financial services to new North Korean customers and to wind down loans with existing customers” in accordance with UN sanctions.

China appears to be signaling to the U.S. that it will strictly enforce punishments on North Korea, to preempt potential U.S. sanctions on Chinese banks and businesses that were threatened by the Trump administration.

On September 21, Trump also signed an executive order giving additional authority to the U.S. Treasury to cut off financial support to North Korea’s nuclear program, the Washington Post reports. Trump said, “I wanna be clear, the order targets only one country, and that country is North Korea,” but some Chinese business will invariably be hit — the Post points out that the order is broad enough to apply to some additional front companies in China that do business for North Korea and may not be already subject to sanctions. For more on the real economic impact in China of sanctions on North Korea, see this piece (paywall) in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Other Trump-China news:

  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi 王毅 emphasized to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence the importance of “good preparations” for Trump’s visit to China, expected in November, Reuters reports. China seeks a “stable and healthy” relationship with the U.S., and credits close communication between Trump and Xi with a “good start” to relations between the countries under the Trump administration, Wang added.
  • Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai 崔天凯 said that he thinks Trump’s visit should help avoid “trade war, currency war or whatever war” between the U.S. and China, according to SCMP.