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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: July 14, 2021 - 8:49am

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.

July 14, 2021 - 8:49am

Geospatial imagery and analysis firm Simularity stands behind its report on ships dumping raw sewage in the West Philippine Sea, adding a stock photo used in its presentation was not used in its analysis.

"We welcome the news that Philippine agencies are validating our research and results. It is all reproducible, based on publicly available sources, well understood algorithms, and the approach and interpretation are validated by readily available scientific papers, links to which you can find in our report," it says.

July 13, 2021 - 2:44pm

The Department of Environemnt and Natural Resources says it will coordinate with the Philippine Coast Guard and the Department of National Defense "on the authenticity of the allegation" that Chinese ships have been dumping raw waste in areas of the West Philippine Sea, which satellite imaging firm Simularity said has been causing damage to coral reefs in the Spratlys.

"After that, we will be seeking for the attention of the Chinese government through our Department of Foreign Affairs," Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, DENR spokesperson, says.

"We will also validate if indeed these are Chinese vessels," he also says.

July 8, 2021 - 10:59am

Akbayan party-list is planning a rally in front of the Chinese Consular Office in Makati City on July 12 to mark the 5th year since the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling on China's sweeping claims in the South China Sea.

"The win upheld the country's sovereign rights within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) against China's 'nine-dash line,' stemming from the landmark case filed by the administration of President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III in 2013," Akbayan says in an advisory.

"The Arbitral Ruling is first and foremost the result of the Filipino people's courageous struggle against foreign aggression, which was matched by President Aquino's strong resolve to file a landmark case against China before the International Tribunal," Dr. RJ Naguit, Akbayan spokesperson, also says.

May 31, 2021 - 11:14am

The government should name and identify rocks and features in the Kalayaan Island Group to assert Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, a senator says Monday.

"The features we occupy in the KIG remain unnamed. Mapapalakas ang paggiit natin ng ating karapatan sa WPS kung malinaw ang pangalan, katangian, at sakop ng mga inaangkin nating teritoryo. Udyukin na ng DENR ang National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) para simulan ang pag-papangalan ng mga ito," Sen. Risa Hontiveros says in a statement. 

May 18, 2021 - 10:04pm

The Philippines protests China’s unilateral fishing ban in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs says the Philippines does not recognize China’s fishing moratorium as it covers areas over which the country exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.

"China’s annual fishing moratorium extends far beyond China’s legitimate maritime entitlements under UNCLOS and is without basis under international law," the DFA says in a statement.

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