Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Trump slaps new sanctions vs Chinese firms over South China Sea issue

The Trump administration imposed fresh sanctions against Chinese firms and military over its “reckless and belligerent actions” in the South China Sea as well as labeled nine companies including Xiaomi as military controlled and added a government oil company to its Entity List.

The Departments of Commerce, State and Defense separately announced actions targeting the People’s Republic of China on Friday, moves that are expected to further fray an already fraught relationship between Washington and Beijing in the days before the Biden administration assumes power.

The Commerce Department said it has added China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to its import-export Entity list over its combative actions in the South China Sea.

“CNOOC acts as a bully for the People’s Liberation Army to intimidate China’s neighbors, and the Chinese military continues to benefit from government civil-military fusion policies for malign purposes,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

China lays sweeping claims to the East China Sea through its so-called Nine-Dash-Line maps, sparking disputes with neighboring countries, including the Philippines and Vietnam, but the United States has pushed back against China’s encroachment, accusing it of building artificial islands since 2013 to use as military outposts to undermine the sovereignty of its neighbors.

In July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States rejects most of China’s maritime claims to the South China Sea, highlighting the United Nations’ 2016 ruling that said the Nine-Dash-Line claim has no grounds.

On Thursday, Pompeo said that CNOOC was added to the Entity List for its role in China’s “campaign of coercion” against other nations who claim ownership to an estimated $2.5 trillion in oil located in the East China Sea.

Pompeo accused China of weaponizing CNOOC to enforce its Nine-Dash-Line policy as well as of sending fishing and energy survey vessels escorted by military ships into the waters of its neighbors “to harass claimant state oil and gas development in areas where it has failed to put forth a coherent, lawful maritime claim.”

Executives of state-owned firms and officials of the Chinese Communist Party and the Asian nation’s navy were sanctioned with visa restrictions by the State Department on Thursday for being responsible for or complicit in “either the large-scale reclamation, construction or militarization of disputed outposts in the South China Sea, or the PRC’s use of coercion against Southeast Asian claimants to inhibit their access to offshore resources.”

Separately, the Defense Department backlisted nine companies including smartphone maker Xiaomi and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China on Thursday by adding them to a list of firms it says have ties to the People’s Liberation Army. CURRENTPH

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