Beijing Sanctions US Defense Manufacturers Over Arms Sales to Taiwan
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Oct. 26 the move was to protect the regime’s national interests, but did not specify what form the sanctions would take.
The Chinese Communist Party considers self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory and refuses to recognize its sovereignty. Beijing has never ruled out using force to bring it under the Party’s control.
The move comes after the U.S. State Department approved an arms sale to Taiwan that could have a total value of $1.8 billion, the Pentagon said last week. The proposed sale has been submitted to Congress for final review, where it is unlikely to be opposed.
The package includes 135 SLAM-ERs—a type of advanced air-launched cruise missile—made by Boeing; Himars mobile artillery rocket systems by Lockheed Martin; and surveillance and reconnaissance sensors by Raytheon, to be mounted on aircraft.
Beijing has previously imposed sanctions on U.S. companies for selling weapons to Taiwan, but no details were provided on the nature of the penalties. Most recently in July, it placed unspecified sanctions on Lockheed Martin for being involved in a $620 million sale of Patriot surface-to-air missiles to Taiwan.
Boeing said in an emailed statement that the company’s partnership with China’s aviation community had long-term benefits and Boeing remained committed to it.
Lockheed Martin said that all of its international sales are strictly regulated by the U.S. government, and that its presence in China is limited.
Raytheon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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.
The Trump administration has ramped up support for Taiwan through arms sales and visits by senior U.S officials. Meanwhile, Beijing has sharply escalated military pressure on Taiwan in recent months.
So far this year, Chinese military aircraft have crossed the sensitive “median line” of the Taiwan Strait—a demarcation that has served as an unofficial buffer zone—49 times, the highest number in a given year since 1990.
U.S. national security adviser Robert O’Brien said this month that while China probably was not ready to invade Taiwan for now, the island needed to “fortify itself” against a future attack or any bid to isolate it through non-military means, such as an embargo.
Reuters contributed to this report.