In a recent interview with the online magazine 19FortyFiv, U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said Beijing has been "very lax" on the transfer of coal and other commodities out of North Korea, calling on China to faithfully enforce North Korea sanctions.
And on Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on six companies, including several based in China, as well as four ships accused of the illegal export of North Korean coal.
The six new entities include the London-based Chinese firm, Always Smooth and the China-based Weihai Huijiang Trade.
It also blacklisted four ships Calm Bridge, Asia Bridge, Lucky Star and Star 18 which are accused of loading coal directly from North Korean ports and transporting their cargo throughout the region.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said North Korea continues to "circumvent the U.N. prohibition on the exportation of coal, a key revenue generator that helps fund its weapons of mass destruction programs."
He added the North often uses forced labor from prison camps in its mining industries, including coal, to exploit its own people to advance such illicit weapon programs.
In 2017, the UN Security Council banned North Korean coal exports.
The 15-member body has been upping sanctions on the regime since 2006, in a move to cut off funding for Pyeongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
However, an annual report to the UN Security Council by independent sanctions monitors this year noted that the North continues to flout UN resolutions "through illicit maritime exports of commodities, notably coal and sand" in 2019, allowing for hundreds of millions of dollars to flow into the regime.
The sanctions freeze any U.S. assets of the entities involved, and bars Americans from doing business with them.
Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News.