Trump sanctions rolled out after Biden reveals his China team

Investment ban to hit major tech and oil companies to stop Beijing’s ‘bullying’ tactics in South China China

Joe Biden and his new China team have been thrown another curveball by the outgoing administration of President Donald Trump.

Earlier this week, Washington imposed the latest in a series of sanctions on officials and companies for allegedly militarising the South China Sea. It also rolled out a United States investment ban on nine more firms.

The decision came just days before Biden moves into the White House and hours after Laura Rosenberger was named the senior director for China.

She will report to Kurt Campbell, who is slated to be the new senior coordinator for Indo-Pacific policy at the National Security Council.

Campbell was the key architect of the US “pivot to Asia” under President Barack Obama’s administration and has strong views on how to tackle the challenges posed by Beijing. 

“China’s growing material power has indeed destabilized the region’s delicate balance and emboldened Beijing’s territorial adventurism. Left unchecked, Chinese behavior could end the region’s long peace,” he wrote in an article with Brookings Institution scholar Rush Doshi.

The facts:

  • Trump’s administration has set in motion sanctions on executives of China’s state-owned enterprises and officials of the ruling Communist Party.
  • Oil giant CNOOC faces restrictions for using “coercion” against rival nations with claims in the South China Sea.
  • Nine Chinese companies were added to the Pentagon’s blacklist for close ties to the People’s Liberation Army.
  • They include smartphone vendor and high-tech group Xiaomi, and the commercial aviation conglomerate Comac.
  • US investors have until November 11 to liquidate their holdings in banned companies.

What was said: “The United States stands with Southeast Asian claimant states seeking to defend their sovereign rights and interests, consistent with international law,” Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, told a media briefing after announcing the sanctions.

Reaction to the news: “China firmly opposes the new sanctions by the United States. The Chinese government has always encouraged Chinese enterprises to carry out economic cooperation in accordance with market principles, international rules and regulations,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a regular media conference.

China Factor comment: The latest sanctions from the Trump team will not have gone unnoticed by Biden and his China tzar Campbell. They plan to push ‘collaboration diplomacy’ with US allies to tackle Beijing’s “bullying” presence in the South and East China Seas. But they will probably be in no rush to roll back major policy moves already put in place by Trump’s administration.