The United States Commerce Department, through the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), has placed five Chinese companies on an export blacklist for continuing to supply Russian military defense firms after the start of the invasion of Ukraine despite sanctions.

“The sweeping export controls put in place by the United States and our allies and partners are restricting the Russian military’s ability to repair, replace, and resupply and will continue to bite harder the longer Putin persists,” Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Alan Estevez said.

The BIS has included the companies on the “Entity List,” which bars all US firms from exporting goods and services. The Chinese companies 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,” Estevez added.

Besides the Chinese firms, 31 other entities have been included in the blacklist from Russia, Lithuania, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Pakistan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan. Of the 36 firms added to the list, 25 were China-based operations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping in Beijing before the Beijing Winter Olympics (Hua Chunying).
Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping in Beijing before the Beijing Winter Olympics (Hua Chunying).

“We worked hard with our allies and partners to structure our export controls for maximum impact on Russia’s strategic sectors… We are well-positioned not only to impose restrictions but also to track and cut off private firms that may seek to support Russia,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Thea D. Rozman Kendler said.

“We will not hesitate to act, regardless of where a party is located if they are violating US law.”

Washington has clarified that it will indiscriminately enforce export control sanctions against Moscow. The recent blacklisting sends an unambiguous message to foreign parties, public or private, that the US and its allies will not hesitate to act according to policy to hinder the Russian war machine.

The United States and our allies and partners will continue to demonstrate our shared resolve on behalf of Ukraine by denying Russia’s military the technologies and items it needs to perpetuate its atrocities.” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement Matthew S. Axelrod said.” Our rules are clear, and we will not hesitate to take action when parties backfill in violating them.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has said that the US is concerned regarding China’s tendencies to be supportive of Russia. He also mentioned that it was the US’s top priority to ensure that China is not militarily supportive of Russia and that they do not undermine the Western sanctions levied on the Kremlin.

China and Russia’s No Limits Partnership

The blacklisting came amidst growing US concerns about deepening ties between Russia and China, particularly after the Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping announced a “no limits” partnership last February.

Last March, Beijing hinted at its willingness to provide economic and military aid to Moscow, which unsurprisingly raised alarms in Washington. Since the start of the invasion, high-ranking officials of the Biden Administration have warned their Chinese counterparts of the consequences of aligning themselves with Russia.

When asked whether Chinese companies supported the Russian military, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian did not confirm or deny the allegations. Instead, he reiterated Beijing’s stand against imposing sanctions on Moscow.

“China and Russia carry out normal trade cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit. This should not be interfered with or restricted by any third party,” he said in a press conference.

The Chinese diplomatic mission in Washington said that Beijing was playing a “constructive role” in pushing for peace negotiations and denied accusations of providing military aid to Moscow.

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A meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping in Beijing before the Beijing Winter Olympics (Hua Chunying).
A meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping in Beijing before the Beijing Winter Olympics (Hua Chunying).

“China and Russia maintain normal energy and trade cooperation, and the legitimate interests of Chinese companies should not be harmed,” a spokesperson of the Chinese embassy said. The spokesperson criticized the US for using its “long-arm jurisdiction” to impose unilateral sanctions.

The US authorities have not seen strong evidence pointing to Chinese support for the Russian military.

“We have not seen China provide Russia with military equipment or systematic evasion of sanctions,” a Biden administration official said.

However, the decision by the Commerce Department to include the Chinese firms in the Entity List reflects worry regarding ties between Xi Jinping and Putin. The move marked the first time the Biden administration penalized Chinese companies for helping the Russian war effort and was taken under the authority of the Export Control Reform Act of 2018.