The United States will bar entry to Chinese executives, navy officials, and others involved in Beijing’s military aggression in the disputed South China Sea region, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Jan. 14.
The move is the latest in a flurry of actions taken in the final days of President Donald Trump’s term to target the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) transgressions around the world.
The State Department will impose visa restrictions on Chinese individuals involved in militarizing outposts in the South China Sea, or Beijing’s “use of coercion against Southeast Asian claimants to inhibit their access to offshore resources” in the region, Pompeo said in a statement. Among those who will be affected by the restrictions are executives of Chinese state-owned companies, CCP officials, and officials in the Chinese navy.
Their immediate family members also may be affected.
Similar visa restrictions were announced last August, though the State Department didn’t explicitly spell out that Chinese officials and executives would be the focus.
“Beijing continues to send fishing fleets and energy survey vessels, along with military escorts, to operate in waters claimed by Southeast Asian nations and to harass claimant state oil and gas development in areas where it has failed to put forth a coherent, lawful maritime claim,” Pompeo said.
The United States in July 2020 formally rejected Beijing’s “unlawful” territorial claims in the South China Sea, and condemned its “campaign of bullying” in the region.
Beijing’s territorial claims over most of the South China Sea’s waters and resources were ruled as unlawful in a 2016 decision by an international tribunal. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan have competing claims in the waterways. Home to rich fishing grounds and potentially valuable natural resources, the South China Sea is also one of the world’s major shipping routes.
The regime has in recent years sought to bolster its claims in the strategic waterway by building military outposts on artificial islands and reefs. In addition, it has deployed coast guard ships and Chinese fishing boats to intimidate foreign vessels, block access to waterways, and seize shoals and reefs.
The Commerce Department today also added state-run oil giant Chinese National Overseas Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to an economic blacklist, over its role in the regime’s “campaign of coercion against other claimants of an estimated $2.5 trillion in South China Sea oil and gas resources,” according to Pompeo.
“The Chinese Communist Party has used CNOOC and other state enterprises as weapons to attempt to enforce Beijing’s unlawful ‘Nine Dashed Line,'” Pompeo said, referring to the boundaries of the CCP’s territorial claim.
“CNOOC used its mammoth survey rig HD-981 off the Paracel islands in 2014 in an attempt to intimidate Vietnam. CNOOC’s then-chief executive touted that oil rig as ‘mobile national territory.'”