“I think it’s a significant action by the Trump administration,” Anthony Ruggiero, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonprofit group in Washington, said of the new round of sanctions.
Tuesday’s actions appeared to be part of a larger campaign to pressure individuals, businesses and countries with financial ties to North Korea, said Mr. Ruggiero, a former official in the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes at the Treasury. “It looks like the beginnings of a broad pressure campaign,” Mr. Ruggiero said.
Among the Chinese companies sanctioned on Tuesday is Mingzheng International Trading Limited, considered by the Treasury Department to be a “front company” for North Korea’s state-run Foreign Trade Bank, which has been subject to American sanctions since 2013.
In June, United States prosecutors accused Mingzheng of laundering money for North Korea and announced that the Justice Department would seek $1.9 million in civil penalties.
Earlier this month, the United Nations Security Council passed its toughest sanctions against North Korea. And the next day, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson met with his counterparts in South Korea and China in an effort to increase pressure against Pyongyang.
The United Nations sanctions were already starting to have an impact curtailing trade in China and infuriating Chinese seafood importers, who had to return goods to North Korea earlier this month.
The new United States sanctions address how other nations tolerate North Korea’s behavior, particularly China, said Elizabeth Rosenberg, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.
“These sanctions expand the U.S. blacklist for companies tied to North Korea’s economic activity and are designed to curb the hard currency available to Pyongyang,” Ms. Rosenberg said in an email. “I think we should expect more sanctions of this nature, including more designations to highlight the role of China to enable North Korea’s illicit aims.”