China has urged the United States to withdraw punitive sanctions imposed on the Chinese military over its purchase of fighter jets and missiles from Russia or “bear the consequences”.
On Thursday, the US State Department said Chinese purchases of SU-35 aircraft and S-400 surface-to-air missiles breached a US sanctions law targeting Russia over its alleged meddling in the 2016 US election and actions in Ukraine.
But Beijing, on Friday, warned of consequences for Washington if it does not cancel those sanctions.
“The Chinese side expresses strong indignation over the above-mentioned unreasonable practices of the US side,” foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told journalists.
Moscow also warned that the US was “playing with fire” and that the measures aimed at Russia and China undermined global stability.
“It would be good for them to remember there is such a concept as global stability which they are thoughtlessly undermining by whipping up tensions in Russian-American ties,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a statement.
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The sanctions target China’s Equipment Development Department (EDD) and its director, Li Shangfu, and have increased tensions between Washington and Beijing amid an escalating trade dispute.
The Trump administration also blacklisted 33 people and entities associated with the Russian military and intelligence services, adding them to a list under the 2017 sanctions law known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
The expansion of the Russian blacklist, which now has 72 names, includes 28 people and entities indicted by the special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
While being added to the blacklist does not trigger sanctions, anyone doing business with a blacklisted person or entity could face penalties like those imposed on China.
US officials said the imposition of penalties on China was the first time that a third-party country was punished under CAATSA and suggested the White House could use the law in the future against countries purchasing equipment from Russia.
“The ultimate target of these sanctions is Russia,” a senior US administration official told journalists, insisting on anonymity. “CAATSA sanctions in this context are not intended to undermine the defence capabilities of any particular country. They are aimed at imposing costs on Russia in response to its malign activities.”
Turkey is in talks regarding the purchase of S-400 missiles from Russia and India has also expressed interest in purchasing S-400s, moves which the US opposes.
“You can be confident that we have spent an enormous amount of time talking about prospective purchases of things such as S-400s and Sukhois with people all around the world who may have been interested in such things and some who may still be,” the US official added.
“We have made it very clear to them that these – that systems like the S-400 are a system of key concern with potential CAATSA implications.”