Lockheed Martin looks set to be slapped with sanctions by China for its role in providing arms to Taiwan, in a move likely to further damage the US’ relationship with the east Asian giant.
Last week the US government approved a $620m upgrade package for a surface-to-air missile system, in which Lockheed is the main contractor.
Speaking to the media, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called on the US to stop selling arms to the contested state in the interests of stability in the region.
“In order to safeguard the country’s interests, China has decided to take necessary steps, and put sanctions on the main contractor for this sale, Lockheed Martin”, he said.
Further details on the sanctions were not forthcoming. City A.M. has contacted Lockheed Martin for comment.
The company also provides Taiwan with other weapons, including Sikorsky’s Black Hawk and Seahawk helicopters.
Although the US does not have any official diplomatic ties with the island state, it has continued to sell arms and provide training to its military since the 1979’s Taiwan Relations Act.
The US, along with the EU, stopped exporting arms to China after the Tiananmen square protests in 1989.
In recent months, relations between the world’s two largest economies have worsened, leading to fears over the future of US president Donald Trump’s long-touted trade deal between the states.
The two have clashed repeatedly over a number of subjects, including the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and a new crackdown on democratic freedoms in the city-state of Hong Kong.
Yesterday China announced sanctions on the US after Washington penalised senior Chinese officials over the treatment of minority Uighur Muslims.
In recent years, China has repeatedly stressed its desire to take control of Taiwan by force if necessary, which has prompted the island state to bolster its military resources over fears of a potential invasion.
Its armed forces are currently conducting five days of military exercises to test its defence systems.