China sanctions five US arms manufacturers over Taiwan weapons sales

The move follows US approval of $300m in military aid for the self-ruled island, which holds elections in a week.

Taiwan national service soldiers showing their combat skills. They are lying on the ground behind piled up tyres with weapons at the ready
Taiwan has been modernising its military to face the threat posed by Beijing [Ann Wang/Reuters]

China has announced sanctions against five US arms manufacturers over weapons sales to Taiwan.

Beijing claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory and has not ruled out the use of force to achieve its goals, while the United States is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.

The sanctions come ahead of Taiwan’s January 13 presidential and parliamentary elections, which China has claimed are a choice between war and peace.

Last month, the US State Department approved a $300m arms package to strengthen Taipei’s joint battle command and control system, prompting Beijing to say it would take unspecified “countermeasures” against the companies involved.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday sanctioned the companies BAE Systems Land and Armament, Alliant Techsystems Operation, AeroVironment, ViaSat and Data Link Solutions.

“The countermeasures consist of freezing the properties of those companies in China, including their movable and immovable property, and prohibiting organisations and individuals in China from transactions and cooperation with them,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The US arms sales to China’s Taiwan region… seriously harm China’s sovereignty and security interests,” it added.

Beijing has increased pressure on Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen was first elected president in 2016, claiming she wants independence.

Tsai has said it is up to the people of Taiwan to decide their future.

Her vice president, William Lai, is running for the top job against Hou Yu-ih of the more China-friendly KMT.

Taiwan has reported regular sightings of Chinese warplanes and balloons around the island in the weeks running up to the election and has warned Beijing against seeking to influence the outcome of the poll.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies