China angry over sanctions on North Korea

China reacts angrily to new U.S. sanctions aimed at increasing pressure on North Korea.

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Ben Ariel,

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China reacted angrily on Saturday to new U.S. sanctions aimed at increasing pressure on North Korea, saying the unilateral targeting of Chinese firms and people risked harming cooperation on the problem, Reuters reported.

The United States said on Friday it was imposing its largest package of sanctions aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programs, while President Donald Trump warned of a "phase two" that could be "very, very unfortunate for the world" if the steps did not work.

The Treasury sanctioned one person, 27 companies and 28 ships, according to a statement on the U.S. Treasury Department's website.

The sanctions' targets include a Taiwan passport holder, as well as shipping and energy firms in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. The actions block assets held by the firms and individuals in the United States and prohibit U.S. citizens from dealing with them.

In a terse statement on Saturday, China's Foreign Ministry said the government had always fully and thoroughly enforced United Nations resolutions on North Korea, and absolutely did not allow any of its citizens or companies to contravene them.

China will "seriously handle" in accordance with the law those found to have done so, it added, according to Reuters.

"China resolutely opposes the U.S. side enacting unilateral sanctions and 'long-armed jurisdiction' in accordance with its domestic law against Chinese entities or individuals," the ministry said.

"We have already lodged stern representations with the U.S. side about this issue, and demand the U.S. side immediately stops such relevant mistaken actions to avoid harming bilateral cooperation in the relevant area," it added, without elaborating.

China has repeatedly expressed opposition to any sanctions against North Korea not done within the framework of the United Nations.

In January, the United States slapped sanctions on North Korean and Chinese firms and individuals that it said support Kim’s regime and his nuclear weapons program.

A month earlier, the U.S. announced sanctions on two North Korean officials behind their country’s ballistic missile program.

North Korea is seeking to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim have taunted each other through the media in recent months.

In the most recent of its ongoing missile tests, North Korea launched a Hwasong-15 missile, a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which officials said can fly over 13,000 km (8,080 miles).

Pyongyang said following the launch that it had test-fired its most advanced missile, putting the U.S. mainland within range, and also declared itself to be "a responsible nuclear power".

Kim claimed in January that his country has developed the capability to hit the entire U.S. mainland with its nuclear weapons.

“The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat,” Kim said in a televised New Year’s Day speech.

Trump later fired back, writing on Twitter, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”