The Bank of China (Otcpk:BACHY) announced on Tuesday that it had terminated all dealings with a key North Korean bank in what may be a response to North Korea’s willingness to ignore warnings from Beijing and advance its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
According to the New York Times, which cites Chinese experts, the Bank of China’s move comes as the Obama administration has been urging China to limit its longtime support for the North Korean government.
The Bank of China's move also plays into the U.S. government’s longstanding efforts to limit North Korea’s access to foreign currency. Most countries’ banks already refuse to have any financial dealings with North Korea, making the Bank of China’s role even more significant.
The state-controlled Bank of China issued a single-sentence statement on Tuesday afternoon, assuring that it had “already issued a bank account closing notice to North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank and has ceased accepting funds transfer business related to this bank account.”
It is unclear whether money in the account would be frozen or would be returned to North Korea.
China has been hesitant until now to join the international sanctions against North Korea, but growing signs of dissatisfaction among Chinese intellectuals and possibly Chinese officials about the extent to which the North has shrugged off warnings and continued with nuclear weapons and long-range missiles tests has apparently pushed the bank to the edge.
The United States Treasury imposed sanctions in March on the North Korean Foreign Trade Bank after accusing it of involvement in nuclear proliferation. Then, Tom Donilon, the White House national security adviser, called for China to stop conducting “business as usual” with North Korea.