“China firmly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a press conference. Taiwan is a self-ruled island, but China has long vowed to unify it with the mainland.
The United States is one of Taiwan’s main arms suppliers. The US State Department last week approved a request by Taiwan to upgrade its Patriot Surface-to-Air missiles at an estimated cost of $620 million, according to Taiwan’s state-run Central News Agency.
In response, China is imposing “sanctions on the main contractor of this arms sale, Lockheed Martin,” Zhao said, without going into detail. The United States should “stop selling arms to Taiwan and cut its military ties to Taiwan, so it won’t do further harm to bilateral relations between China and the United States,” he added.
Relations between the world’s top two economies were already approaching new lows.
The arms sale is “symbolic, and only gives Taiwan secessionists false courage, rather than boosts its military capabilities,” Yang Chengjun, a Chinese expert on missile technology and nuclear strategy, told the newspaper.
Lockheed Martin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It is unclear how Chinese sanctions would affect the company’s business. Lockheed Martin said in a recent filing that missiles and firearms will account for less than 20% of the company’s estimated sales for 2020. It makes more than twice as much revenue from aeronautics, which includes sales of the company’s F-35 fighter jets.
— CNN’s Isaac Yee contributed to this report.