China has imposed trade and investment sanctions on United States military contractors Lockheed Martin and Raytheon for supplying weapons to Taiwan in what is seen as the latest effort to isolate the self-governing island which China claims as part of its own territory.
The US arms manufacturing companies are barred from importing goods into China or making new investments in the country, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced on Thursday.
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The ministry said the firms had been placed on an “unreliable entities list” over their sale of weaponry to Taiwan.
The move appeared to either make good on an announcement of sanctions made against the firms in February 2022 or amounted to additional sanctions by Beijing.
Beijing also announced sanctions against Raytheon and other defence contractors and “relevant American individuals” in October 2020.
It was not immediately clear what effect the sanctions might have on Lockheed Martin or Raytheon. The US has already barred most sales of weapons-related technology to China, but some military contractors also have civilian businesses in aerospace and other markets.
The US is Taiwan’s main supplier of military equipment.
Raytheon Missiles and Defense, part of Raytheon Technologies Corp, was awarded a $412m contract in September to upgrade Taiwan’s military radar as part of a $1.1bn package of US arms sales to the island. Lockheed Martin has supplied Taiwan’s military with radar, helicopters and air traffic control equipment.
In China, Lockheed Martin has sold air traffic control equipment for civilian airports and helicopters for commercial use.
The announcement of sanctions on the US firms follows less than a week after the US blacklisted six Chinese entities in retaliation over an alleged Chinese spy balloon entering US airspace.
The US Bureau of Industry and Security said on Friday that six Chinese entities were being targeted over their links to Beijing’s aerospace programmes, which was involved in surveillance balloon development, and for their “support to China’s military modernisation efforts”.
The six entities blacklisted were Beijing Nanjing Aerospace Technology Co, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, 48th Research Institute of China Electronics Technology, Dongguan Lingkong Remote Sensing Technology Co, Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group Co, Guangzhou Tian-Hai-Xiang Aviation Technology Co and Shanxi Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group Co.
The blacklisting will make it more difficult for the five companies and one research institute to obtain US technology exports.
China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that Washington and Beijing should better manger their differences over the Chinese balloon incident.
”The Chinese unmanned civilian airship that strayed into US airspace was completely a force majeure accident,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said ahead of an anticipated speech on the issue by US President Joe Biden.
Biden is expected on Thursday to make his most extensive remarks yet about the high-altitude Chinese balloon and three other objects that were recently shot down by US fighter jets,
The US president is under pressure from legislators to speak more extensively about the flyovers of US territory by unidentified objects.
Beijing has denied the balloon was involved in surveillance, claiming instead that it was a harmless weather balloon.