USA probes China firm over North

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Chinese officials insist that trading relations are on a downward trend.

One official said more than 10 Chinese firms could be targeted, much more than Trump reportedly shared with Xi when he hosted him at the president's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida back in April.

"So much for China working with us - but we had to give it a try!" he added.

Chinese purchases of North Korea iron ore rose 34 percent from a year earlier in the first five months of the year, according to a South Korean industry group, the Korea International Trade Association.

According to a report from CNBC, further sanctions could be imposed on small Chinese firms believed to be linked to North Korea in the next few weeks. What comments does China have on this? "UN Security Council sanctions are not a total ban on shipments".

"We will continue to strictly and earnestly implement the North Korea-related Security Council resolution in its entirety", said Geng at a regular news briefing.

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In late June, Washington imposed secondary sanctions on two Chinese citizens and a shipping company for helping North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and accused a regional Chinese bank, the Bank of Dandong, of laundering money for Pyongyang.

But they would stop short, at least for now, of the kind of broad "sectoral" sanctions Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, secured through unilateral and worldwide action against Iran to pressure it into negotiations to curb its nuclear program.

"They'd have to show they're really serious", the second official said.

Trump pledged repeatedly during his election campaign to get tough on Chinese trade practices deemed unfair to the United States, but his rhetoric softened after the friendlier-than-expected April summit with Xi.

US President Donald Trump has been openly expressing disappointment over China's lukewarm stance in curbing its economic trade with North Korea, which reportedly grew nearly 40 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, raising the possibility for broader secondary sanctions.

The 68-year-old had come under fire for driving under the influence of alcohol in 1991 and for playing golf in his post-retirement years on anniversaries of such national tragedies as the sinking of the Cheonan warship and North Korea's shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.

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