China accuses US of 'bullying' with new 'illegal' sanctions

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., left, speak during a news conference on legislation labeling the Russian Wagner Group as one of the Foreign Terrorist Organizations, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

BEIJING (AP) — China on Monday accused the U.S. of “outright bullying and double standards” in leveling what it called “illegal” sanctions on Chinese companies as part of U.S. actions against Russia’s Wagner Group and related companies and individuals.

The entities were targeted for their role in the war in Ukraine and mercenary activities, including human rights abuses, in Africa.

The sanctions “have no basis in international law or authorization from the Security Council, and are typical illegal unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a daily briefing.

The punitive measures were “seriously harming China’s interests” and China “strongly rejects and deplores that and has lodged solemn complaints with the U.S. side,” Mao said.

“While the U.S. has intensified its efforts to send weapons to one of the parties to the conflict, resulting in an endless war, it has frequently spread false information about China’s supply of weapons to Russia, taking the opportunity to sanction Chinese companies for no reason," she said. “This is outright bullying and double standards."

The Treasury and State departments announced the moves in coordinated statements that targeted dozens of Wagner Group affiliates, including some in the Central African Republic and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the president of Russia’s Kalashnikov Concern, the original manufacturer of the AK-47 assault rifle.

Wagner, a private Russian military company, has been involved in heavy fighting in the east of Ukraine.

The sanctions also hit the Chinese company Changsha Tianyi Space Science and Technology Research Institute Co. Ltd., also known as Spacety China, which has supplied Wagner Group affiliates with satellite imagery of Ukraine that support Wagner’s military operations there. A Luxembourg-based subsidiary of Spacety China was also targeted.