Figure 1: Taiwan’s American-made Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries pass during a parade in Taipei, Taiwan, Wally Santana, 10 October, 2007.
On Monday, China decided to impose new sanctions on U.S. defence contractors Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin due to their arms sales to Taiwan, stepping up a feud with Washington over security and Beijing’s strategic ambitions. It is the third time China has announced punishments against U.S. companies.
Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin announced the decision at a daily press briefing. The sanctions, as countermeasures against the two companies, amount to over a $100-million deal approved by the U.S. to maintain Taiwan’s missile defence systems. Furthermore, Beijing views the self-ruled island of Taiwan as a breakaway province that must accept Chinese sovereignty and has never renounced the use of force to achieve that goal.
Chinese Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin announced the move citing a newly passed Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law in 2021. “In accordance with the relevant stipulations in China’s anti-foreign sanctions law, the Chinese government has decided to take countermeasures on the infringing acts of Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin,” Wang said. “Both are military enterprises that have long participated in U.S. arms sale to China’s Taiwan region.” Yet, no further details were given on the nature of the sanctions.
This is the first time the companies have faced these measures under China’s new anti-foreign sanctions law drawn up last year in response to U.S. move against Chinese companies. On at least two previous occasions China announced sanctions against Lockheed and Raytheon, in 2019 and 2020, though Beijing has not explained what those entailed or how they were enforced.
In October 2020, Beijing also announced sanctions against Raytheon, other defence contractors and “relevant American individuals.” A day later, the U.S. State Department said it had notified Congress of plans for a $2.37 billion sale of Harpoon attack missiles to Taiwan. It is unclear what penalties, if any, were imposed. U.S. weapons or military aircraft sales to Taiwan in 2010, 2015 and 2019 drew similar threats of sanctions.
China maintains that U.S. arms sale to Taiwan violates its so-called One China policy and agreements between Beijing and Washington. Tensions over Taiwan have been mounting as Beijing has stepped up military activity around the island to try to force concessions from the pro-independence administration of President Tsai Ing-wen. The Communist Party also is using the Chinese mainland’s growing economic weight to pressure other governments to cut diplomatic and unofficial ties with Taiwan.
Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed, and other defence industry giants face controls on sales to China of military and dual-use technologies that have both defence and commercial applications. However, they also have major civilian businesses, and China is a massive aviation market, among other industries.
Written by Berber Bijlsma
Baptista, E., Chow, E. & Blanchard, B. (2022). Beijing sanctions Lockheed, Raytheon again over Taiwan arms sales. Reuters. [online]. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/beijing-places-sanctions-us-arms-companies-lockheed-raytheon-2022-02-21/
The Associated Press (2022, February 22). China sanctions Raytheon, Lockheed over Taiwan deal. DefenceNews. [online]. Available at: https://www.defensenews.com/industry/2022/02/22/china-sanctions-raytheon-lockheed-over-taiwan-deal/