Chinese officials have criticized President Donald Trump's warning that his administration would discontinue trade with any country that continues to trade with North Korea. Roughly 80 countries conduct business with Kim Jong Un's regime, including China.
On Sept. 4, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang fired back against Trump's social media warning that the U.S. was willing to discontinue trade with countries that conduct trade with North Korea, Politico reports.
"What is definitely unacceptable to us is that on the one hand we work so hard to peacefully resolve this issue and on the other hand our interests are subject to sanctions and jeopardized," Geng said during a press briefing. "This is unfair."
On Sept. 3, North Korea announced it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, escalating its nuclear program amid international tensions. Trump took to social media to respond to the nuclear test.
"The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea," Trump tweeted.
Later that evening, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin disclosed that he was drafting sanctions that would target entities that continued to conduct business with the Kim regime.
"We've already started with sanctions against North Korea, but I'm going to draft a sanctions package to send to the president for his strong consideration, that anybody that wants to do trade or business with them would be prevented from doing trade or business with us," Mnuchin told Fox News.
Korea's Trade Investment Promotion Agency estimated that roughly 80 nations conducted trade with North Korea in 2016. These countries included key U.S. allies such as France, Germany, India and Pakistan, according to the BBC.
China conducts the bulk of business with North Korea, accounting for 90 percent of the isolated nation's trade. China is also America's most prominent trading partner. In 2016, the U.S. imported $450 billion in goods from China and exported $115 billion to the Asian nation.
Political science professor Dursun Peksen of the University of Memphis asserted that slapping China and its banks with sanctions would potentially backfire against the U.S.
"Given the size of its economy and involvement in the global economy, China is not a country that would easily give in to the threats of comprehensive economic sanctions," Peksen told Bloomberg.
Doug Paal, the vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, warned that economically punishing China would potentially hurt the entire global economy.
"If you really ratchet up the sanctions against China's largest banks, that could have systemic consequences for the global economy and could really hurt the American economy as well as the North Korean economy," Paal said.
Geng asserted during his press conference that international allies were unfairly placing all of the responsibility to contain North Korea's nuclear program on China.
"We keep stressing that we cannot solely rely on China to resolve this issue," Geng said. "We need all parties to work in the same direction."