The Commerce Department on Wednesday blacklisted 24 Chinese companies, saying that they are helping the ruling Chinese Communist Party construct artificial islands in the South China Sea, which the U.S. sees as a military provocation.
Issue at stake: Commerce said that since 2013, the Chinese government has built more than 3,000 acres of islands in the international waters off its southeastern coast, including “air defense and anti-ship missile features.”
This appears to be the first time the administration is targeting China’s actions in the South China Sea, which has provoked U.S. partners in Southeast Asia like Taiwan and the Philippines. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has recently stepped up criticism of China’s claims of outposts in the area. In 2016, the tribunal at The Hague said China’s claims violated international law.