In recent developments, the United States had announced a new set of trade sanctions that were imposed on Chinese-owned firms along with their officials for their roles in the South China Sea territorial disputes.
Continuing territorial war
On Wednesday, the State and Commerce departments' actions affect various Chinese enterprises including several parts of China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC), one of the country's leading contractors for Chinese President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the US government placed 24 other Chinese firms that have been continuously operating within the South China Sea, including five subsidiaries of CCCC to a list of the Commerce Department that prohibits US companies from dealing with the foreign companies or supplying them with American technology.
The State Department announced that it rendered several executives who are believed to have had a hand in malign activities in the South China Sea ineligible for US visas.
The decision followed a declaration by the US government last month that stated Washington is opposing several claims by China in the territory of the South China Sea. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the change in policy was part of a strategy to maintain international law.
Beijing has continued to claim parts of the South China Sea as parts of its territory despite overlapping with six other countries, five of which are Southeast Asian countries. Xi has led China to continuously build artificial islands on several features in the region under the country's control.
Xi has also equipped the locations with weaponry, a program that has continued despite Xi's 2015 promise during a press conference held in the White House that he will not militarize the islands in the area.
Trump's administration has continued to ban Chinese-owned social media apps TikTok and WeChat and recent weeks as part of the Republican's crackdown on China. The United States president had repeatedly accused Beijing of poorly responding to the coronavirus pandemic when it was first discovered in Wuhan, as reported by The New York Times.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington said that allegations were utterly unreasonable and stated that the area of the South China Sea and claimed the region was an integral part of China's territory.
The representative said that the US is branding out its dominance in what it calls a severe violation of international law and basic protocols about international relations. He continued to deny the accusations and condemns the American government of its claims.
The State Department announced on Wednesday that China has continued to build more than 3,000 acres across the seven features of the South China Sea since 2013. The buildings include several air-defense and anti-ship missile technology.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the companies added to the list were ones who had significant roles in Beijing's aggressive constructions of artificial islands and noted the firms had to be held responsible for their actions.
Although the United States does not have claims in the South China Sea, the American government said it wished to maintain the freedom of navigation in the region's water that are filled with natural resources.