US firms to take hit over Taiwan weapon deals

Top News | ASSOCIATED PRESS 27 Oct 2020

Beijing says it will impose sanctions on US military contractors - including Boeing's defense unit and Lockheed Martin - for supplying weapons to Taiwan, stepping up a feud with Washington over security and Chinese strategic ambitions.

Raytheon Technologies and "relevant American individuals" associated with the sales also will be affected, according to foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, though there were no details of what penalties might be imposed or when.

Washington promised in the 1980s to reduce and eventually end weapons sales to Taiwan but insists the dispute with Beijing must be settled peacefully.

Sino-US relations have plunged to their lowest level in decades amid disputes about security, technology, the coronavirus pandemic and human rights, though Taiwan has long been an irritant in relations.

Washington has no formal relations with the island's democratically elected government but is its main ally.

American law requires the US government to ensure Taiwan can defend itself and weapons sales to the island have increased in quantity and quality.

Beijing last week demanded Washington cancel a planned sale of 135 precision land attack missiles valued at just over US$1 billion (HK$7.8 billion) to improve its defenses.

That sale "seriously undermined China's sovereignty and security interests," Zhao said.

China has stepped up military activity around Taiwan in an attempt to force concessions from the pro-independence administration of President Tsai Ing-wen.

And the Communist Party is also using the mainland's growing economic weight to pressure other governments to cut diplomatic and also unofficial ties with Taipei.

China is one of Boeing's biggest markets for commercial aircraft, which might make it vulnerable to a boycott, but Zhao mentioned only Boeing's military arm, Boeing Defense.

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon also supply radar and other technology for civilian aviation.

The two governments have put sanctions on companies and individuals on the side over complaints about human rights, computer hacking and other issues, though it is unclear whether any have had any effect.

Washington has also imposed travel and financial bans on Chinese officials and firms it says are linked to abuses in Xinjiang, where Muslim minorities are held in reeducation camps, and Hong Kong after Beijing imposed a security law.

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