CHINA has responded angrily to plans by a group in US Congress to impose new sanctions over Beijing’s building work in the disputed South China Sea.
A group of Republicans and Democrats, led by Marco Rubio, are demanding sanctions on Chinese firms involved in the construction. Beijing’s territorial claim in the South China Sea overlaps with that of five other countries. China has been building military installations on islands and artificial reefs in the region.
Lu Kang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, claimed the proposed legislation “violates the basic norms of international law and international relations and the Chinese side, of course, firmly objects”.
He added: “We urge the US side not to proceed the deliberation of the legislation, in order not to bring new disruption to the China-US relations.”
If the bill is passed the US will seize financial assets owned by the Chinese companies involved in the construction.
It will also deny US visas to key figures within these companies.
The bill specifically lists land reclamation, construction of artificial islands and communications infrastructure building as banned activities.
To become law the legislation must pass both the Senate and House of Representatives, after which it would need the approval of President Trump.
Speaking to the South China Morning Post Andrew Thompson, formerly of the US defence department, said: “The introduction of the act reflects the bipartisan outrage over China’s actions in the maritime areas on its periphery, as well as Congress’s frustration that the Trump Administration’s response has been limited.
“Inaction by the US, other maritime countries, claimant states, however, hasn’t made the situation any better either, so there is no real cost to the US for stepping up its opposition to China’s behaviour.”