Washington, D.C., United States—The American government has imposed sanctions on the Chinese military over an order of Russian anti-air missiles and aircraft.
The sanctions came because of a twin Chinese purchase of 10 Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets in 2017 and batteries of S-400 surface-to-air missiles in early 2018. The State Department announced that the sanctions would specifically target China’s Equipment Development Department (EDD), the military agency responsible for weapons and equipment purchases, and its director, Li Shangfu.
US officials have said the sanctions are aimed at Russia and are not intended to undermine other countries’ defense capabilities, and similar action against other countries could be considered.
The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the sanctions as economic warfare and “yet another act of unfair competition.”
The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov went on to say that by its actions America is undermining regional and global stability and thoughtlessly heating up the US-Russian relationship. “It would be not bad if they remembered about the concept of global stability which they are unthinkingly undermining by whipping up tensions in Russia-U.S. relations. Playing with fire is stupid and can become dangerous.”
Li is accused of transacting with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s chief weapons exporter. Li and the EDD are banned from transacting in the U.S. financial system (and its abundant capital) and applying for U.S. export licenses.
Rosoboronexport, alongside numerous other Russian agencies, companies, and individuals (including Russian President Vladimir Putin), has been sanctioned over the Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Interestingly, this was the 60th sanction package imposed on Russia.
“Each new round of sanctions proves our foe’s complete lack of success in pressuring Russia with previous such attempts,” added Ryabkov. Further, he stressed that despite U.S.’ sanctions, Russia will maintain an independent foreign policy.
In response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed its “strong indignation at these unreasonable actions by the U.S. side and has already lodged stern representations.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, went on to say that such actions harm the US-Chinese relationship and the bilateral military ties.
“We strongly urge the U.S. side to immediately correct the mistake and rescind the so-called sanctions, otherwise the U.S. side will necessarily bear responsibility for the consequences,” added Geng.
According to the State Department, the Chinese agency violated the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. According to Heather Nauert, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman, the sanctions intend “to further impose costs on the Russian government in response to its malign activities.”
“The U.S. will continue to urge all countries to curtail relationships with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors, both of which are linked to malign activities worldwide,” added Nauert.