Beijing will place unspecified sanctions on Lockheed Martin for its involvement in the latest U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the second time this week that the regime announced punitive measures against individuals and entities in the United States.
The U.S. state department last week approved a request by Taiwan to update its Patriot surface-to-air missiles at an estimated cost of $620 million. U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin is the main contractor for this deal.
The Chinese regime, which considers self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory, has vowed to unify the island by force, if necessary, and has consistently opposed American arms sales to Taiwan. The United States is bound by law to provide the democratic island with the means to defend itself.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called on the United States to stop selling weapons to Taiwan to “avoid further harming Sino-U.S. ties and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
“In order to safeguard the country’s interests, China has decided to take necessary steps, and put sanctions on the main contractor for this sale, Lockheed Martin,” Zhao told reporters on July 14, without giving details.
Lockheed Martin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The United States has long had an arms embargo on China. It is unclear how any sanctions would impact the U.S. weapons maker. Last year, Sky News reported that a Chinese-owned company made circuit boards for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jets. The company said at the time that it was not aware of any other Chinese suppliers for the manufacturing of the jets.
Beijing has previously announced similar sanctions on U.S. companies for Taiwan arms sales, but no details were provided on what form they took.
Earlier this week, the Chinese regime imposed sanctions on four American officials and one U.S. entity, days after the Trump administration announced sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses in the region of Xinjiang. Beijing’s sanctions were slapped on Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), and Sam Brownback, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. The U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China also was included.
The government in Taiwan has welcomed the missile upgrade. It is bolstering its defenses for what it sees as increasingly threatening moves by Beijing, such as its regular air force intrusions into Taiwan airspace and naval exercises held near Taiwan.
Taiwan Defense Minister Yen Teh-fa, while visiting troops during the annual Han Kuang military exercise on Tuesday, said they needed to be strong in the face of “all sorts of threats and provocations” from China.
“This tells our people and the Communists that we have the confidence and ability to protect our people and homeland, and defend the country’s security,” his ministry cited him as saying.
Reuters contributed to this report.