US blacklists Chinese individuals, firms for South China Sea work
In this April 21, 2017, file photo, Chinese structures and an airstrip on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea are seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130.
CSIS AMTI via DigitalGlobe, File
US blacklists Chinese individuals, firms for South China Sea work
Paul Handley (Agence France-Presse) - August 27, 2020 - 8:54am

WASHINGTON, United States — The United States on Wednesday announced sanctions and restrictions on two dozen Chinese companies and associated officials for taking part in building artificial islands in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

The 24 state-owned firms include subsidiaries of construction giant China Communications Construction Co., telecommunications firms and a unit of the China Shipbuilding Group.

The US Commerce Department said the companies "enabled China to construct and militarize disputed outposts in the South China Sea."

"Since 2013, the PRC (People's Republic of China) has used its state-owned enterprises to dredge and reclaim more than 3,000 acres on disputed features in the South China Sea, destabilizing the region, trampling on the sovereign rights of its neighbors, and causing untold environmental devastation," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

The 24 companies were placed on the Commerce Department's "Entity List" which allows it to block exports of US goods and materials to them.

In addition, Pompeo said individuals associated with the South China Sea operations will be unable to obtain visas to visit the United States.

The names of the individuals were not made available.

HSBC criticized

Pompeo on Wednesday also blasted HSBC, the Britain-based Hong Kong banking giant, over reports that it had frozen access for executives of Next Media to their personal bank accounts and credit cards as Beijing and Hong Kong security authorities pressure the independent media group. 

"The bank is thus maintaining accounts for individuals who have been sanctioned for denying freedom for Hong Kongers, while shutting accounts for those seeking freedom," said Pompeo in a statement.

"Free nations must ensure that corporate interests are not suborned by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) to aid its political repression," he said.

The blacklisting of the Chinese companies was the latest step in Washington's efforts to push back against Beijing over its military buildup in areas of the South China Sea where sovereignty is contested by countries including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Beijing has sought to make its claims to much of the South China Sea a de facto reality by building up small shoals and reefs into military bases with airstrips and port facilities.

In July the United States formally declared Beijing's pursuit of territory and resources in South China Sea as illegal, explicitly backing the territorial claims of Southeast Asian countries against China's.

Both the United States and China militaries have stepped up actions in the region, raising tensions between the two sides.

The Chinese have conducted military exercises, while the US navy has undertaken "freedom of navigation operations" to assert its rejection of Chinese sovereignty by sailing through waters around islands that Beijing claims as its own. 

On July 13, Pompeo voiced Washington's increasingly strong challenge to China's claims, saying "the world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire."

On August 6 Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe warned the US to stop making inflammatory statements over the South China Sea and Taiwan and "avoid taking dangerous moves that may escalate the situation."

CHINA SOUTH CHINA SEA UNITED STATES WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: August 27, 2020 - 9:37am

The United States Navy's Nimitz-class nuclear powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis continues underway in the South China Sea.

The US Pacific Command just reported that it has received "cargo" from support ship USNS Rainier in the disputed waters.

August 27, 2020 - 9:37am

China said a US spy plane entered a no-fly zone used by the Chinese military for live-fire drills, branding it an act of provocation, state media said Tuesday.

The U-2 reconnaissance jet's flight over an area in northern China violated safety rules between the two nations, Xinhua reported, citing Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian.

"The US action could easily have resulted in misjudgments and even accidents," said the report, adding "that the move was an obvious provocation." — AFP

July 14, 2020 - 7:34am

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States would treat Beijing's pursuit of resources in the dispute-rife South China Sea as illegal, ramping up pressure on another front.

"We are making clear: Beijing's claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them," Pompeo says in a statement.

The United States has long rejected Beijing's sweeping claims in the South ChinaSea, aligning itself with Vietnam, the Philippines and other US partners in the region. — AFP

July 3, 2020 - 7:28am

The Pentagon says it is "concerned" about Chinese military exercises around a disputed archipelago in the South China Sea, noting the maneuvers will "further destabilize" the region.

"The Department of Defense is concerned about the People's Republic of China (PRC) decision to conduct military exercises around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on July 1-5," the Pentagon says in a statement.

The activities "further destabilize the situation" in the area claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan, it says. — AFP

April 30, 2020 - 4:15pm

The Philippines says it strongly protests "the establishment of the so-called districts of 'Nansha' and 'Xisha' under the supposed administrative jurisdiction of its self-declared 'Sansha City'" which would cover parts of the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs says it has protested since 2012 the "unlawful establishment of Sansha City" that includes Philippine territory and maritime zones in the WPS, including the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo de Masinloc.

The Philippines also protests the dseignation of Kagitingan Reef in the Kalayaan Island Group "as adinistrative center for the so-called 'Nansha district'," saying the reef is part of the KIG and an integral part of Philippine territory.

April 27, 2020 - 1:41pm

Sen. Risa Hontiveros has filed a resolution to urge the executive branch to "exert legal and diplomatic pressure" on China over its activities in the West Philippine and to have the regional giant pay for enviromental damage in the area.

"China's sense of entitlement to our seas has caused severe and irreparable harm to our ecosystems," Hontiveros says in a statement on the filing of Philippine Senate Resolution No. 369.

Even if the Senate, the majority of which supports the Duterte administration and its foreign policy with China, adopts the resolution, it is non-binding on the executive branch.

"Hindi tayo kolonya, kaya panahon nang singilin ng gobyerno ang Tsina (We are not a colony so it's about time that we have China pay)," she also says.

In her resolution, Hontiveros says "unlawful Chinese activities in the West Philippine Sea are estimated to have caused at last P33 billion in damage annually to marine ecosystems within the Philippines' continental shelf and exclusive economic zone" since 2013, the year that the Philippines filed its arbitration case.

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