NHK reported that on Wednesday the U.S. Department of Commerce released a statement saying that it will impose sanctions on 24 Chinese companies for their alleged involvement in China’s militarization of the South China Sea. According to the statement, the 24 companies, including subsidiaries of the state-owned China Communications Construction Company Limited, have allegedly played an important role in creating artificial islands with a total area of 1,200 hectares in the South China Sea since 2013. These companies will in effect be banned from dealing with American companies. Noting that the Trump administration made it clear last month that China’s “claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful,” the network said this is the first time for the administration to slap sanctions on Chinese firms over the South China Sea.
The network added that the Department of State also announced that it will restrict the issue of visas to Chinese individuals, including executives of state-owned companies that will be subject to U.S. sanctions. Noting that Secretary Pompeo stressed in a statement that “the United States will act until we see Beijing discontinue its coercive behavior in the South China Sea,” the network said the Trump administration is set to further increase pressure on China ahead of the presidential election in November, which will further escalate tension between the U.S. and China.