BEIJING – China announced on Tuesday that it would impose sanctions on the United States-based arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin for reaching a pre-agreement worth $620 million with Taiwan for repairing and refurbishing PAC-3 missiles.
“China firmly opposes the US arms sales to Taiwan and we urge the US to stop doing so and to cut its ties with Taiwan to avoid harm to bilateral relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan strait. We will impose sanctions on the main contractor of this sale, Lockheed Martin,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a press conference.
Zhao did not specify the details of the sanctions, which were announced just after a meeting of the Taiwan Affairs office of the Chinese government.
The office said in a statement that efforts to gain independence for Taiwan “by force” will not be successful and “undermining peace and stability” could prove “catastrophic” for the Taiwanese.
Meanwhile, Beijing also criticized the US after the latter declared on Monday all Chinese sovereignty claims in the South China Sea as “completely unlawful.”
This latest move by Washington signals an escalation in its policy against Beijing’s expansionism in the strategically important area, abound with mineral and marine resources, and plagued by territorial disputes.
“The US statement violates and distort facts, disrupts regional peace and is very irresponsible. Our effective jurisdiction over the relevant islands has been there for over a thousand years. China’s territorial sovereignty has followed legal and historical bases and is consistent with law,” Zhao said in the press conference.
“China doesn’t seek to build a military empire, we treat our neighbors as equals and exercise restraint,” he added.
“On the contrary, the US refuses to join the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea, withdraws from treaties, frequently sends aircrafts and vessels in the area. (…) They are the trouble makers,” the spokesperson insisted.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said on Monday that Beijing’s claims over “offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.”
His statement came after the US sent its aircraft carriers Ronald Reagan and Nimitz to South China Sea on July 6 for what was one of the biggest military exercises carried out by the US Navy in the region in recent years.
The recent escalation in tensions comes after the two sides traded barbs related to a wide range of issues including the COVID-19 pandemic, human rights situation of the ethnic Muslim minority of Uyghurs in China, the new security law for Hong Kong and the long-standing trade war between them.
This is not the first time that China has lashed out against the US for selling weapons to Taiwan, an island it considers its territory. Last year, Washington had approved arms sales worth $2.2 billion to Taipei.
China, which maintains that Taiwan is a rebel island since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, has prevented countries that maintain diplomatic ties with it from establishing similar relations with the island, as part of its “One China Policy.”