The measures are in response to Washington’s weapons sales to Taipei, Beijing says © Getty Images / kevinjeon00

China has sanctioned five American defense industry companies in response to “gravely wrong actions taken by the US,” the Foreign Ministry has announced. The move is said to be a countermeasure to Washington’s decision to proceed with new arms sales to Taiwan, as well as unilaterally sanctioning Chinese businesses.

This comes after Washington approved a $300 million weapons sale to Taipei last month, ahead of Taiwan’s presidential and parliamentary elections on January 13, in which US-friendly Vice President Lai Ching-te of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party is the front-runner, according to recent polls.

Earlier in 2023, the administration of US President Joe Biden authorized a direct military transfer of $80 million to Taiwan under a program typically used for sovereign states, Reuters reported.

In a statement released on Sunday, the Foreign Ministry said the US sanctions imposed on Chinese companies and individuals “under various false pretexts” harm “China’s sovereignty and security interests, undermine the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

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“China strongly deplores and firmly opposes this and has made solemn démarches to the US,” according to the statement.

The American companies affected by the new sanctions are BAE Systems Land and Armament, Alliant Techsystems Operation, AeroVironment, ViaSat, and Data Link Solutions, according to the ministry, which added that the measures include freezing the companies’ assets and prohibiting Chinese organizations and individuals from working with them.

Beijing urged the US to abide by the one-China principle and refrain from supplying arms to Taipei. It added that there will be a “strong and resolute response” if Washington continues with “illegal unilateral sanctions.”

Though Taiwan has long been self-governing, China considers the island part of its territory and reserves the right to seek reunification by force if Taipei formally declares independence. The US has officially recognized China’s sovereignty over Taiwan. However, in 2022, Biden said that Washington would defend Taipei in the event of an “unprecedented attack” by Beijing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told Biden in November 2023 that Taiwan is the biggest and “most potentially dangerous” issue in bilateral relations, according to Reuters. (RT)