China will impose sanctions on Lockheed Martin, Boeing Defense, Raytheon and other U.S. companies it says are involved in Washington’s arms sales to Taiwan, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday.
Zhao Lijian told journalists that China was acting to protect its national interest, but did not spell out what form the sanctions would take.
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.
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 Defence, and Raytheon, and those individuals and companies who behaved badly in the process of the arms sales,” Zhao said.
China has imposed sanctions on Lockheed Martin and other U.S. companies in the past for selling weapons to Taiwan, though it is unclear what form the penalties 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.
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.
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 said in an emailed statement that all of its international military sales are strictly regulated by the U.S. government, and that its presence in China is limited.
Raytheon did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.