Chinese business interests will be protected from “illegal” restrictions, the Foreign Ministry has said FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning during a press conference. © Pedro Pardo / AFP

Beijing has responded to reports that Washington is planning to impose “broad” sanctions on the country, vowing to defend Chinese businesses from measures intended to target firms for allegedly helping Russia.

The proposed sanctions were discussed on Monday by CNBC, which interviewed a number of Congress members about the plans. Democrat Gerald Connolly, who sits on the House Committee on Foreign Relations, claimed “the very threat” of sanctions from the US and potentially the EU “ought to clarify some thinking in Beijing.”

However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Tuesday that Beijing rejects unilateral economic restrictions as a matter of principle and will defend the interests of its businesses.

“China has the right to conduct normal cooperation with countries around the world,” Mao said during a daily briefing. “We have always opposed unilateral sanctions and ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ that have no basis in international law and are not authorized by the UN Security Council.”

China tells Ukraine it ‘does not sell lethal weapons’ to conflicting sides China tells Ukraine it ‘does not sell lethal weapons’ to conflicting sides

She dismissed Washington’s suggestion that Chinese businesses were helping Russia with its military operation against Ukraine. Beijing has been impartial on the conflict and has been promoting a peaceful resolution, Mao said.

“We have not watched from afar, let alone taken advantage” of the situation, she added.

The US previously targeted specific Chinese firms and individuals, which it accused of providing assistance for Moscow’s military campaign in various ways. The new round of sanctions will reportedly be the first to directly hit the government in Beijing.

“If broad sanctions were applied to China, it would really hit home,” Connolly told CNBC. He claimed that “China has a lot more to lose than Russia” from such restrictions.

Russia became the world’s most sanctioned nation when the US and its allies ramped up pressure on Moscow in relation to the Ukraine crisis. Contrary to Western predictions, the measures have failed to ruin the Russian economy.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi discussed the issue of unilateral restrictions and the risks of possible Western disengagement from China with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference last week, his department said.

The minister emphasized that the attempts to “build ‘a small yard with high fences’ to ‘decouple from China’ will ultimately backfire on the US itself,” it stated. Wang urged his American counterpart to “lift its illegal unilateral sanctions” on Chinese firms. (RT)