China Hits 2 U.S. Defense Companies With Sanctions For Selling Military Weapons to Taiwan

By Thea Felicity

Apr 11, 2024 10:10 AM EDT

This photo taken on April 24, 2018 shows a J15 fighter jet landing on China's sole operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, during a drill at sea. - A flotilla of Chinese naval vessels held a "live combat drill" in the East China Sea, state media reported early April 23, 2018, the latest show of force by Beijing's burgeoning navy in disputed waters that have riled neighbours.
(Photo : -/AFP via Getty Images)

China announced on Thursday, Apr. 11, that it had prohibited two American defense companies from allowing their management or representatives to enter China, per AP News. The reason behind this is the US companies' alleged involvement in selling arms to Taiwan. 

Since China considers Taiwan as part of its territory, it opposes any arms sales to the island, which it regards as a separatist province. The imposed sanctions involve freezing the assets of these companies within China and prohibiting their management from entering the country until further notice.

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What Are The Two US Defense Companies

China's barring of two prominent US defense companies signals a heightening of tensions between the two nations. China's recent military activities in the vicinity of Taiwan, which include the deployment of warplanes and navy ships encroaching on Taiwan's air defense identification zone, serve as a stark reminder of the persistent geopolitical tensions in the region. 

Together with Taiwan, however, the US is also steadfastly opposing any efforts aimed at compromising the island's autonomy by allowing arms trade.

China's current sanctions specifically target General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems. 

General Dynamics, known for its operations in China's aerospace sector, including Gulfstream and jet aviation services, has been scrutinized for its involvement in producing Abrams tanks for Taiwan's defense. Similarly, General Atomics, renowned for its Predator and Reaper drones, faces allegations of aiding Taiwan militarily, although Chinese authorities did not provide specific details.

While Beijing has threatened such actions in the past, they have rarely been enacted. Economic difficulties, worsened by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a decline in foreign investment at the time, have likely contributed to the hesitance to implement such measures. 

China's Foreign Ministry condemned the purported arms sales, citing violations of the one-China principle and challenging the nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The sanctions, enacted under China's recently enacted Law of the People's Republic of China on Countering Foreign Sanctions, are seen as retaliation against US measures targeting Chinese officials accused of human rights abuses.

The targeted companies have yet to respond to the sanctions. 

Why US Companies Sold Arms To Taiwan?

Even though formal diplomatic relations between the United States and Taiwan are lacking, the United States continues to serve as an ally to Taiwan. This partnership includes providing diplomatic support as well as supplying military hardware. 

Taiwan, recognizing the importance of maintaining its defense capabilities, has made significant investments in advanced weaponry and submarines. Ultimately, this approach aims to strengthen Taiwan's ability to defend itself in the face of regional challenges and geopolitical tensions.

China's stance on Taiwan has triggered commercial boycotts and diplomatic tensions, exemplified by previous bans on American firms Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Missiles & Defense.

READ MORE: EU Blacklists North Korea's Defense Minister, Chinese Firms for First Time in New Sanctions Over Russia's War in Ukraine

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