The United States accuses five companies in China of supporting the Russian army

Smoke rises above the rubble of a building destroyed by a military raid, as Russia’s offensive on Ukraine continues, in Lysechhansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, June 17, 2022. REUTERS/Olksandr Ratoshnyak/File Photo

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The administration of US President Joe Biden on Tuesday added five companies in China to a trade blacklist for allegedly supporting Russia’s military and defense industrial base, flexing its power to impose sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

The Commerce Department, which oversees the blacklist, said the targeted companies provided items to Russia’s “relevant entities” prior to the February 24 invasion, adding that they “continue to contract to supply listed Russian entities and sanctioned parties.”

The agency also added 31 other entities to the blacklist from countries including Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Lithuania, Pakistan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, according to the Federal Register List. Of the 36 added companies, 25 have China-based operations.

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“Today’s action sends a strong message to entities and individuals around the world that if they seek to support Russia, the United States will stop them as well,” Alan Estevez, the Commerce Department’s undersecretary for industry and security, said in a statement.

Asked whether these Chinese companies supplied materials to the Russian military, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian neither confirmed nor denied the accusations, but reiterated China’s opposition to US sanctions on Russia.

“China and Russia are conducting normal trade cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit. No third party should interfere or restrict,” he said at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

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The Chinese embassy in Washington said Beijing had not provided military aid to Russia or Ukraine. It said it would take “necessary measures” to protect the rights of its companies, arguing that the sanctions violate international law.

Three companies in China accused of aiding the Russian military, Connec Electronic Ltd, Hong Kong-based World Jetta and Logistics Limited, could not be reached for comment. The other two companies, King Pai Technology Co, Ltd and Winninc Electronic, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Hong Kong has been considered part of China for the purposes of US export controls since Beijing’s crackdown on the city’s autonomy.

The companies’ blacklist means that their US suppliers need a Department of Commerce license before they can ship items to them.

The United States and its allies have set out to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion, which Moscow describes as a “special operation,” by imposing sanctions on a group of Russian companies and oligarchs and adding others to a trade blacklist.

While US officials have previously said China is generally complying with the restrictions, Washington has vowed to closely monitor compliance and strictly enforce the regulations.

“We will not hesitate to act, regardless of where the party is, if it is in violation of US law,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Management Thea Roseman Kindler said in the same statement.

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(Reporting by Alexandra Alper). Additional reporting by Susan Heffy and Yu Lun Tian in Beijing; Editing by Tomas Janowski, Richard Chang and William MacLean

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