China has expressed firm opposition to a US move to impose sanctions on companies for what Washington calls their role in helping “construct and militarize” artificial islands in the South China Sea. Beijing has overlapping claims with other parties in the disputed waters.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a news conference on Thursday that “China’s construction activities on its own territory are entirely within its sovereignty and have nothing to do with militarization.”
Zhao said, “It is unjustified for the US to impose sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals for their involvement in relevant construction activities in their own country.” He added, “The move by the US side grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs.”
The sanctions announced on Wednesday effectively ban 24 Chinese companies from making deals with US firms. The Chinese entities include subsidiaries of state-owned China Communications Construction Company.
The administration of US President Donald Trump looks ready to step up its pressure on Beijing over its construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea and its increasingly assertive territorial claims in the waters.
Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described Beijing’s maritime claims to most of the South China Sea as “completely unlawful.”