US sanctions against Chinese officials and companies over the South China Sea dispute

The United States announced sanctions targeting Chinese companies and “officials from the Chinese Communist Party” on Wednesday, accusing them of contributing to the “militarization” of the South China Sea.

These sanctions are part of the new enhanced policy announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in mid-July to confront China’s “illegal” demands in the South China Sea, against the backdrop of an unprecedented escalation of tension between the two superpowers.

In a statement, Pompeo threatened to “continue taking measures as long as China does not stop using force in the South China Sea”. 

“We will continue to support our allies in their resistance to these destabilizing activities,” he said.

As of Wednesday, the US State Department will begin withdrawing the US visa from every Chinese citizen who contributes to “widespread drought, construction and militarization” of disputed small artificial islands that are considered advanced sites in the South China Sea.

Washington also targets people who participate in “the use of coercion by the People’s Republic of China against Southeast Asian people to impede their access to overseas resources”.

The US Secretary of State made it clear that these persons and their family members “will no longer be able to enter the United States”.

On the other hand, the US Department of Commerce, for the same reasons, added 24 Chinese government companies to its black list, including several branches of the Chinese Telecom Company, which it accuses of helping the Chinese army in the militarization of the islands.