China has expressed opposition to any unilateral sanctions on North Korea, the country's Foreign Ministry has said, in response to a unilateral decision by the United States to impose new curbs on Pyongyang in retaliation for its nuclear and rocket launch tests.
Ministry spokesman Lu Kang made the remarks at a regular briefing on Thursday.
Asked whether China was worried the sanctions could affect "normal" business links between Chinese banks and North Korea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said this was something China was "paying attention to."
"First, as I've said many times before, China always opposes any country imposing unilateral sanctions," Lu told a daily news briefing in Beijing.
"Second, under the present situation where the situation on the Korean Peninsula is complex and sensitive, we oppose any moves that may further worsen tensions there."
"Third, we have clearly stressed many times in meetings with the relevant county, any so-called unilateral sanctions imposed by any country should neither affect nor harm China's reasonable interests."
China is North Korea's sole major ally but it disapproves of its nuclear program and calls for the Korean Peninsula to be free of nuclear weapons.
North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Jan. 6, and a Feb. 7 rocket launch that the United States and its allies said employed banned ballistic missile technology.
US President Barack Obama on Wednesday imposed sweeping new sanctions on North Korea intended to further isolate its leadership after recent actions seen by the United States and its allies as provocative.
The US unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang freezes any property of Pyongyang and prohibits exportation of goods from the US to North Korea. US officials had previously decided a blanket trade-ban on Pyongyang would not be effective without the support of China, North Korea’s biggest trading partner.
It also allows the US government to blacklist any individuals - whether or not they are US citizens - who deal with major sectors of North Korea's economy. Experts said the measures vastly expanded the US blockade against Pyongyang.
The new sanctions threaten to ban from the global financial system anyone who does business with broad swaths of North Korea's economy, including its financial, mining and transport sectors.
South Korea had also imposed new unilateral sanctions on January 6 against individuals and entities over alleged connections with Pyongyang’s nuclear weapon programme.
The United States had previously presented a draft resolution to United Nations Security Council with China’s support to impose more severe restrictions on Pyongyang because of its nuclear and rocket tests which was approved by the body on March 2, 2016.
US officials and experts have often questioned China's commitment to enforcing sanctions on North Korea while China fears that overly harsh measures would destabilise the country.