The Biden administration has placed five Chinese companies on an export blacklist for violating sanctions by allegedly providing support to Russia’s military and defence companies before and during the invasion of Ukraine.
The commerce department put the Chinese firms on the “entity list”, which effectively bars US companies from exporting to them. The companies, which are not globally recognised names, are Connec Electronic, King Pai Technology, Sinno Electronics, Winninc Electronic, and World Jetta (HK) Logistics.
“Today’s action sends a powerful message to entities and individuals across the globe that if they seek to support Russia, the US will cut them off,” said Alan Estevez, under-secretary of commerce.
The blacklisting was announced as the US grows increasingly worried about strengthening ties between Beijing and Moscow, particularly after Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin in February signed a statement that described the China-Russia partnership as having “no limits”.
The Financial Times reported in March that China had signalled a willingness to provide military assistance to Russia, which set off alarm bells in Washington.
Over the past two months, Jake Sullivan, US national security adviser, and Lloyd Austin, secretary of defence, have warned their Chinese counterparts that Washington would take strong action if China gave Russia any military equipment or assistance. US officials said there was no evidence that China has provided military assistance.
The commerce department did not accuse the Chinese government or military on Tuesday of supplying equipment to the Russian army. “We have not seen China provide Russia with military equipment or systematic evasion of sanctions,” said a White House official.
But the decision to place the companies on the entity list emphasised the broader concern about ties between China and Russia. It also marked the first time that President Joe Biden’s administration has penalised Chinese entities for helping the Russian military since Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine in February.
Chinese and Russian nuclear bombers flew over the Sea of Japan last month while Joe Biden was in Tokyo, further stoking US anxieties. Experts said the exercise highlighted how Beijing was co-operating with Moscow even as Russian forces waged their assault on Ukraine.
The Chinese embassy in the US said Beijing was playing a “constructive role” in promoting peace talks and had not provided military assistance to Russia.
“China and Russia maintain normal energy and trade co-operation, and the legitimate interests of Chinese companies should not be harmed,” said an embassy spokesperson, who criticised Washington for imposing unilateral sanctions under its “long-arm jurisdiction”.
Follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter