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Europeans demand China quit aiding Putin in Ukraine

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China has felt pressure from the United Kingdom and the European Union as a dozen Chinese firms were accused of supplying Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war machine. 

After the Group of Seven (G7) leaders discussed the Ukraine war in a virtual meeting on Wednesday, the UK sanctioned 46 companies and individuals, most of which are based in Russia while three are Hong Kong-registered. It’s the first time that the UK has sanctioned Chinese firms on account of the Ukraine war.

During the meeting, the G7 leaders reaffirmed a commitment they’d made at the G7 Summit in Hiroshima in Japan in May. They were joined by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. 

“Our commitment remains to restrict exports of all items critical to Russia’s military and industrial base, including those used on the battlefield and we call on third parties to take equivalent action,” the G7 leaders said in a statement. “We repeat our call for third parties to immediately cease providing material support to Russia’s aggression, or face severe costs.” 

“We call on China to press Russia to stop its military aggression, and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its troops from Ukraine,” they said.

They added that they encourage China to support a comprehensive, just and lasting peace based on territorial integrity and the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter, including through its direct dialogue with Ukraine. 

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Meanwhile, in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday, European Council chief Charles Michel requested China to immediately deal with 13 companies involved in supplying Russia with dual-use goods.

Michel said EU leaders meeting in Brussels may decide to name the Chinese firms next week if there have been no adequate assurances from Beijing.

UK vs China

In recent years, the UK and Chinese governments have had many rounds of verbal fighting over Hong Kong’s democracy and freedom and Xinjiang’s human rights issues. 

On Wednesday, the UK government announced 46 new sanctions targeting individuals and groups supplying and funding Putin’s war machine. 

The sanctioned included 31 Russian individuals and entities linked to designing and manufacturing drones and missile parts and importing and supplying key electronic components. 

Four companies, one each in Belarus, Serbia, Turkey and Uzbekistan, were sanctioned for shipments to Russia while four UAE-based entities were accused of facilitating unfettered trade in Russian oil.

Three Hong Kong-registered firms were also sanctioned.

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UK Sanctions Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the latest sanctions will hit Putin where it hurts, damaging Russian defense systems, and cracking down on illegal supply chains propping up Russia’s war machine.  

The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) on Wednesday issued an alert to financial institutions and other members of the UK regulated sector warning that Russia is trying to procure UK sanctioned goods through intermediary countries.

The NCA said UK firms should conduct due diligence to ensure that the end destination of their products is not Russia and comply with a “Common High Priority” items list developed by the UK, the United States, the EU and Japan.

The list includes many items found on the battlefield in Ukraines, and includes integrated circuits, as well as other electrical and mechanical components.

Shipped items

The Hong Kong trio of companies named and sanctioned are Asia Pacific Links Ltd, Sinno Electronics Co Ltd, and Xinghua Co Ltd.

Their relations and operations were explained in a report published in December last year by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a defense and security think tank established in 1831. 

In June 2022, Sinno Electronics, a light-emitting diode (LED) maker, was added to the US Commerce Department’s Entity List for supplying electronics to Radioactomatika, a Russian company. Sinno was further sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in September last year. 

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Asia Pacific Links, a microelectronics supplier operated by a Russian national called Anton Trofimov, is the largest supplier of SMT-iLOGIC, which is a St Petersburg-based drone maker. 

Xinghua Co Ltd is a subsidiary of the Beijing-based Luchengtech Co Ltd, which is a supplier of dual-use notebook computers. It also distributes Getac’s rugged computers and Advantech’s electronic products. It is owned by a Chinese national named Yuan Jilun. 

Asia Pacific Links, Luchengtech and its associate firm called Xinghua Hengcheng were sanctioned by the US Departments of the Treasury and Commerce in May this year for sourcing Chinese electronic products for SMT-iLOGIC.

China registered its disapproval of the new developments. “We firmly oppose such action and have lodged stern representations with the UK side,” Zheng Zeguang, Chinese Ambassador to the UK, said in a statement. “The UK side’s action constitutes violation of international law, abuse of unilateral sanctions, and damages the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.” 

Zheng also criticized the UK for ignoring public opinion at home and in the world and adding fuel to the fire in the Ukraine war.

“Instead of reflecting on its own vile behavior, the UK has made excuses to sanction entities in China and other countries. This fully exposes the hypocrisy on the part of the UK itself,” he said. “We urge the UK government to immediately rectify its wrongdoing and revoke sanctions against Chinese companies.”

He added that the Chinese government will take firm and strong measures to defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises. He said any action harming China’s interests will be met with a firm response. 

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Read: Chinese pundits predict Russian victory in Ukraine

Follow Jeff Pao on Twitter at @jeffpao3



Source: Asia Times

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