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Iran Press TV

China to slap sanctions on Lockheed Martin over Taiwan arms sale

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 14 July 2020 10:33 AM

China says it will slap sanctions on major US military contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. in response to a deal to sell weapons to the self-ruled Chinese territory of Taiwan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made the announcement during a daily news briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, urging the United States to cut military ties with Taiwan in order to avoid further harm to bilateral relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

"China firmly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan," Zhao said.

"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," he added, without giving further details.

China's announcement came after the United States approved a request from Taiwan to buy an estimated 620-million-dollar upgrade package for its Patriot missiles.

The US State Department said on Friday that Lockheed Martin would be the main contractor and said the sale would not only serve US interests but strengthen Taiwan's military against "regional threats" – a thinly-veiled reference to China.

China had previously threatened to slap sanctions on US firms involved in arms sales to Taiwan, in retaliation against Washington's attempts to undermine Chinese national security.

China has sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan, and under the "One China" policy, almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty, including the US.

Washington, however, has long courted Taipei in an attempt to counter Beijing. The US, which has no formal diplomatic relations with Taipei by law, is the island's largest weapons supplier and an avid backer of Taiwan's secessionist president Tsai Ing-wen, causing increasing tensions with Beijing over trade and a host of other issues.

Washington almost regularly makes provocative moves around the self-governed island, particularly by sailing its warships through the sensitive and strategic Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan from mainland China.

Zhao also described the United States as "a troublemaker" undermining peace and stability in the South China Sea.

He said China had never tried to build an empire in the sea, rejecting a US claim that Beijing treats the disputed region as its "maritime empire."

This came after the US said it would treat Beijing's pursuit of resources in the disputed South China Sea as "illegal," ramping up support for China's rival claimants in the region.

China has defended its military exercises in the South China Sea, over most of which Beijing claims sovereignty.

The latest tension comes as the United States and China are at odds over a number of issues, including the coronavirus pandemic and Hong Kong.

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