China to Impose Sanctions on U.S. Firms Over Taiwan Arms Sales

BEIJING (Reuters) -
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

China will impose sanctions on U.S. entities participating in Washington’s arms sales to Taiwan, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

Lockheed Martin, Boeing Defense and Raytheon will be sanctioned,  spokesman Zhao Lijian told a news conference in the Chinese capital. He did not say what those sanctions would entail.

The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of three weapons systems to Taiwan, including sensors, missiles and artillery that could have a total value of $1.8 billion, the Pentagon said last week.

China strongly condemns the sale of arms to Taiwan, said Zhao. Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province it has vowed to bring under control, by force if necessary.

“To safeguard our national interests, China decided to take necessary measures and levy sanctions on U.S. companies such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing Defense, and Raytheon, and those individuals and companies who behaved badly in the process of the arms sales,” he said.

China has sanctioned U.S. companies in the past, including Lockheed Martin, for selling weapons to Taiwan, though it is unclear what form they have taken.

The United States, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but Washington is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

A spokesman for Boeing said in an emailed statement that the company’s partnership with China‘s aviation community had long-term benefits and that Boeing remained committed to it.

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

The Trump administration has ramped up support for Taiwan through arms sales and visits by senior U.S officials, adding to tensions in relations between Beijing and Washington, already strained by disagreements over the South China Sea, Hong Kong, human rights and trade.