Congress takes aim at China seas

The US-China Trade War has entered new territory with the decision by members of Congress to push legislation that would commit the US government to punish Chinese individuals and entities involved in “illegal and dangerous” activities in the South and East China seas.

If passed, the “South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act” would require the government to seize US-based financial assets and revoke or deny US visas of anyone engaged in “actions or policies that threaten the peace, security or stability” of areas in the South China Sea that are contested by one or more members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Activities targeted by the bill include land reclamation, the making of islands, lighthouse construction and the building of mobile communication infrastructure.

Which type of Chinese individuals and entities would be involved in such activities? We can only think of one type, which has a three-letter acronym beginning with P and ending with A.

Meanwhile, even though no Shenzhen-based company has been added to the US blacklist today, it is worth noting that one of the Greater Bay’s tech darlings, Sensetime, is being looked at (pardon the pun). Founded in Hong Kong, Sensetime is a world-leading facial-recognition software developer worth nearly US$5 billion, with offices in nine cities, including Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Bloomberg reported yesterday that Sensetime could be a target after five Chinese surveillance companies were named as being under consideration for the blacklist. Its backers include Qualcomm, the chipmaker that recently cut off all business with Huawei. Sensetime declined to comment.

This is a fast-moving story. Keep an eye on newsletters from SupchinaSinocism, and Trivium for roundups and analysis.