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U.S. targets Chinese, Russian companies with military ties

U.S. targets Chinese, Russian companies with military ties
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced visa restrictions on Monday targeting Chinese officials over being connected to human rights abuses committed by the Asian nation. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 21 (UPI) -- The Trump administration on Monday announced trade restrictions on dozens of Chinese and Russian companies, accusing them having military ties.

The Commerce Department unveiled its new Military End User List on Monday, naming 58 Chinese and 45 Russian companies in its first tranche of entities the U.S. government has determined represent "an unacceptable risk of use in or diversion to a 'military end use'" in China, Russia or Venezuela.

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The list restricts the companies from buying U.S. goods and technologies through requiring exporters to secure a license to sell them such products, a license that in all probability will be denied.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross described the list as aiding exporters to screen their customers for military end users.

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"The department recognizes the importance of leveraging its partnerships with U.S. and global companies to combat efforts by China and Russia to divert U.S. technology for their destabilizing military programs, including by highlighting red flag indicators such as those related to Communist Chinese military companies identified by the Department of Defense," he said in a statement.

The list is to be published Tuesday on the Federal Register, giving the public time to respond to the entities named. Ross said the list is non-exhaustive and the administration retains the right to amend it.

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Tensions between the Washington and Beijing have been escalating as the Trump administration has pushed back against China's moves it views as human rights abuses and threats to its national security.

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The actions have come to include targeting companies with restrictions, and the State Department has been lobbying other nations to exclude Chinese telecoms from developing their next generation 5G wireless Internet infrastructure over national security concerns and worries the private data of Americans will end up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.

It has also ramped up pressure against China over the past year, rejecting its claims in the South China Sea, accusing it of failing to prevent the coronavirus pandemic and punishing it over committing human rights abuses in Xinjiang province and Hong Kong.

As it nears the end of its tenure, the State Department has continued to tighten its diplomatic and financial vises on China, sanctioning several companies over conducting mass surveillance and human rights abuses as well as its campaign in the south China Sea on Friday.

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On Monday, Pompeo announced visa restrictions against Chinese officials "who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, policies or actions aimed at repressing religious and spiritual practitioners, members of ethnic minority groups, dissidents, human rights defenders, journalists, labor organizers, civili society organizers and peaceful protests."

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Pompeo specifically states the United States stands with Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong businessman and activist, who was jailed earlier this month under a draconian national security law imposed during the summer. Several other lawyers and religious groups, leaders and academics were named.

The moves are expected to anger China, which has previously warned the United States against "meddling" in its internal affairs.

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After reports were published stating the Commerce Department was fashioning a list of companies with military ties, China accused the United States of "wanton suppression of Chinese companies by the United States" and of "politicizing economic and trade issues, abusing state power and stretching national security concept to suppress foreign businesses."

"What the U.S. has done gravely violates market competition principles and international trade rules it always claims to champion, and will eventually damage investor's interests as well as its own national interests and image," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said earlier this month during a regular press conference.

Late last week, China accused the United States of "emotional lashing out."

"There is no evidence to support their accusation," Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Yi said on Friday during a live webcast. "They are merely irresponsible presumptions of guilt."

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