The decision comes just a few weeks after Beijing and Moscow agreed to fresh United Nations sanctions on the North, indicating that the U.S. is "doubling down on its pressure campaign to steer Kim Jong Un into negotiations," analysts at political consultancy Eurasia Group wrote in a Tuesday note.
The White House "is willing to alienate or cajole both Beijing and Moscow to get on board with its strategy," the note continued.
China and Russia are close allies of North Korea and can wield influence over the pariah state due to deep economic and business ties. But many now fear Washington's actions could spark more animosity, instead of cooperation, between the three U.N. Security Council members.
Beijing has already slammed Washington over the new sanctions, which it called "long-arm jurisdiction over Chinese entities and individuals." China opposed unilateral sanctions out of the U.N. Security Council framework and urged the White House to "immediately correct its mistake, so as not to impact bilateral cooperation on relevant issues," a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy told Reuters on Tuesday.
Others believed Tuesday's move was more than justified.
"Chinese and Russian companies are violating U.S. law and in some instances, they are violating the UN sanctions that they voted for," said Anthony Ruggiero, a former senior U.S. Treasury official and currently a senior fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a right-leaning think tank. "We need to ask whether these two countries are actually partners here."