Washington/Colombo – The United States announced sanctions against some large Chinese companies over the South China Sea issue. Although, the sanctions mention constructions in the South China Sea, as per received information, the biggest hit will be taken by the ambitious Chinese project, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) and its affiliates, targeted by the sanctions, have major stakes in the BRI. Therefore, it is believed that the Chinese projects started in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines along with Sri Lanka, are under threat.
The US commerce department announced sanctions targeting 24 Chinese companies and CCCC, the biggest Chinese company in the construction sector features in the list, along with five of its subsidiaries. The Commerce Department statement clarifies that no US company can enter into any transactions with these Chinese companies. In its reaction, the CCCC clarified that none of the companies, in the list, have any dealings with the United States or US companies. But even if there are no business transactions in the United States or with the US companies, CCCC and its subsidiary companies, have major stakes in many countries and projects. These projects mainly include projects under the Belt and Road initiative.
These projects include port and city-building projects in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, the Indian neighbours. CCCC subsidiaries are building the Colombo New Port City and the project is worth nearly $1.5 billion. At the same time, a Deep-Water Port is being built in Myanmar and this project is valued at more than $5 billion. These projects being implemented in the Indian Ocean region, have become a cause of concern, from the strategic point of view, for India and the United States.
The United States criticised the projects, being implemented in many countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand, other than these. The US administration has accused that these projects being implemented through loan funding, is nothing but a debt trap being laid by the Chinese communist regime, around these countries. Following the United States, India, Japan, Australia and the European countries also have targeted the Chinese Belt and Road initiative. Along with the United States, India, Japan, Australia have initiated various moves, on various levels, to rock this ambitious Chinese scheme.
Against this background, the baton of sanctions raised by the United States draws attention. The US action, during the Coronavirus pandemic, only goes to show that the edge of the conflict started by US President Donald Trump, is becoming sharper.