New sanctions from China take aim at an American defense contractor for selling arms to Taiwan, Reuters reported Tuesday.
China refused to provide details about the sanctions, which target Lockheed Martin. Taiwan is a top client for the arms company, which recently agreed to send the island nation a $620 million upgrade for the Patriot missile systems used to defend its borders.
Exhorting the United States to halt its weapons sales to Taiwan, PRC spokesman Zhao Lijian asked Washington to "avoid further harming Sino-U.S. ties and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait."
The attempt to pressure American companies away from doing business with Taiwan comes amid intensified Sino-American competition. President Donald Trump issued a series of sanctions and laws that reject PRC overtures to expand power in Asia and within international organizations, including ending special status for Hong Kong and withdrawing from the World Health Organization. In turn, China issued sanctions on Senators Ted Cruz (R., Tex.) and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), as well as two other American officials.
In the past month, Beijing has done away with its "One Country, Two Systems" model in Hong Kong and may set its sights on Taiwan next. As a free-market democracy, Taiwan presents an alternative model both to Beijing’s communist regime and Hong Kong's special status that could challenge the legitimacy of Xi’s growing Marxist imperium. "The contrast between Taiwan’s peaceful democracy with the mayhem on the streets of Hong Kong and the repression in mainland China" helped deliver Taiwan's pro-democracy party an electoral victory this year, according to the Financial Times.
Growing support from the United States leaves the people of Taiwan determined to stand up to their adversarial neighbors. The arms deal "tells our people and the Communists that we have the confidence and ability to protect our people and homeland," said Taiwanese defense minister Yen Teh-fa on Tuesday.
China has long claimed Taiwan as a territory of the PRC. As far back as 1958, the regime fomented an international crisis by lobbing shells at the Taiwanese barrier islands of Quemoy and Matsu. As a previous holding of the Qing dynasty, Taiwan remains a critical part of Xi Jinping’s ambitions "to renew the Chinese nation to its past glory," writes American Enterprise Institute scholar Daniel Blumenthal.