South China Sea: US unveils first sanctions linked to militarisation

South China Sea: US unveils first sanctions linked to militarisation

  • The latest US move against Beijing cracks down on firms whose goods may support Chinese military activities

The United States has blacklisted 24 Chinese companies and targeted individuals it said were part of construction and military efforts in the South China Sea, its first such sanctions move over the disputed strategic waterway.

The US Commerce Department said the companies played a “role in helping the Chinese military construct and militarise the internationally condemned artificial islands in the South China Sea”.

Separately, the State Department said it would impose visa restrictions on Chinese individuals “responsible for, or complicit in” such action and those linked to China’s “use of coercion against south-east Asian claimants to inhibit their access to offshore resources”.

The move on Wednesday was the latest US move to crack down on firms whose goods may support Chinese military activities and comes in the run up to the US presidential election, in which both Donald Trump and Joe Biden have been sharply critical of China.

The US accuses China of militarising the South China Sea and trying to intimidate Asian neighbours who might want to exploit the area’s extensive oil and gas reserves.