The United States on Friday slapped sanctions on Chinese firms involved in illegal fishing and North Korea's border security agency as part of actions against a broad range of countries to tackle corruption and human rights abuses.
The administration of President Joe Biden also used the occasion to double down on criticism of Russia, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying in a statement that Moscow's invasion of Ukraine is a "stark reminder that corrupt regimes are among the worst perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses."
Russian government officials were blacklisted for alleged actions such as so-called filtration operations that have involved interrogations, deportations and torture of Ukrainians.
On China, the sanctions targeted two individuals and the networks of entities they control, including Dalian Ocean Fishing Co. and Pingtan Marine Enterprise Ltd., and over 150 vessels for their connection to serious human rights abuse.
Dalian- and Pingtan-owned and -operated vessels were operated with forced labor, involving withheld pay, physical violence, abusive working and living conditions, and meager food and water, which contributed to the deaths of crew members, according to the State Department.
A North Korean government bureau in charge of security along its borders with China and Russia was also sanctioned, with the U.S. government saying that tight border controls have resulted in the deaths of numerous North Koreans as they seek to flee from the dire circumstances in their country.
The penalized individuals and entities will face asset freezes in the United States. Americans will generally be prohibited from transactions involving those blacklisted.
The series of sanctions, which also seek to address serious human rights abuses in Iran, the Philippines and elsewhere, was unveiled in recognition of the International Anti-Corruption Day on Friday and Human Rights Day on the following day, according to the US government.