The Chinese Communist government on Tuesday announced it will impose undefined sanctions against the Lockheed Martin corporation to retaliate for U.S. approval of a deal that will upgrade Taiwan’s Patriot missile defense systems.
“The Chinese side has decided to take the necessary measure by imposing sanctions on Lockheed Martin Corporation, which is the chief contractor in the arms deal,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a news conference on Tuesday.
“We firmly oppose to the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and urge the U.S. to earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the three China-U.S. joint communiques and stop arms sales to and military ties with Taiwan, lest it should further harm China-U.S. relations and cross-straits peace and stability,” said Zhao, referring to declarations written in the 1970s that supposedly affirm Taiwan is part of China.
The Foreign Ministry did not specify how the sanctions against Lockheed Martin would work, or when they would go into effect. The Washington Post expected the impact on the company to be “minimal,” since U.S. defense contractors have been “heavily constrained in what business they can do with China” ever since an arms embargo was imposed in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Analysts cited by the Post estimated that sales to China account for only two percent of Lockheed Martin’s revenue.
The deal Beijing objects to was approved by the U.S. State Department last week. Taiwan plans to spend up to $620 million on upgrading and maintaining its Patriot missile batteries, with the goal of helping them reach 30 years of operational life. Lockheed Martin will be the primary contractor for the program. The deal is expected to be finalized within a month.
“This proposed sale serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability. The recipient will use this capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen homeland defense. The recipient will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces,” the State Department said when it approved the deal.
“This arms sale is the seventh by the Trump administration to Taiwan so far, fully demonstrating the importance attached to our national defense security, consolidating our security partnership with the United States, and jointly maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region,” the Taiwanese Defense Ministry responded.