U.S. targets Chinese individuals, firms amid South China Sea dispute


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China claims 90% of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim to parts of an area through which about $3 trillion of trade passes each year.

Companies blacklisted by the Commerce Department include Guangzhou Haige Communications Group, several firms that appear to be related to the China Communications Construction Co, as well as Beijing Huanjia Telecommunication, Changzhou Guoguang Data Communications, China Electronics Technology Group Corp and China Shipbuilding Group.

A message left with Shanghai Cable Offshore Engineering Co Ltd, an engineering company that specializes in the laying of submarine cables for Chinese utilities and telecom companies on the listing, was not immediately returned. Several other companies on the list could not immediately be reached or could not immediately be located.

The Commerce Department said it was adding the firms to its “entity list,” which restricts sales of U.S. goods shipped to them and some more limited items made abroad with U.S. content or technology. Companies can apply for licenses to make the sales, but they must overcome a high bar for approval.

The actions follow the same blueprint used by Washington in its attempt to limit the influence of Huawei Technologies Co for what it says are national security reasons. (Reporting by Susan Heavey, Idrees Ali and Daphne Psaledakis Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Grant McCool)

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