Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Beijing, China (4E) – China is angrily protesting the “unreasonable” decision by the United States to impose punitive sanctions on a Chinese military unit for buying 10 Russian Sukhoi Su-35 air superiority fighters and equipment for its S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.
China took ownership of 10 Su-35s in December 2017 and the first consignment of S-400 missile system equipment this year. Both transactions were the result of deals negotiated between China and Rosoboronexport (ROE), Russia’s main arms export agency, said the U.S. Department of State.
China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang summoned U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad on Sept. 22 and “lodged solemn representations” about the sanctions.
Analysts said the sanctions were an indirect attempt by the U.S. to punish Russia by using China as a tool. Hit by the U.S. sanctions were the Equipment Development Department (EDD) of China’s Ministry of Defense and its director, Lt. Gen. Li Shangfu of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Washington said the purchases by EDD violated U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia.
According to the sanctions, EDD will be denied U.S. foreign export licenses; be banned from making foreign exchange transactions within U.S. jurisdictions and prohibited from using the U.S. financial system. Any of the EDD’s property and interests within U.S. control will be blocked. Li was hit by similar penalties and will not be able to secure a U.S. visa.
The U.S. invoked Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (CAATSA) “for engaging in significant transactions with persons on the (List of Specified Persons)”.
China expressed its strong indignation towards the unreasonable move by the United States, and has made solemn representation, said China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.
He said the United States “has seriously violated the basic norms of international relations.” It’s also disturbed the relationship between China and the U.S. China strongly calals on the U.S. to remedy the mistake and cancel the sanctions. “Otherwise, the U.S. has to bear the consequences.”
Geng said China will continue defense cooperation and develop its strategic ties with Russia. He noted that cooperation between China and Russia is aimed at helping both countries protect their legitimate interest. It does not violate international laws or target at any third party, claims Geng.
A senior Trump administration official said the unexpected sanctions are “aimed at imposing costs on Russia in response to its malign activities.” He was referring to Russia’s hacking of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and its military intervention in Ukraine.
A State Department official insisted the sanctions were intended to affect Russia only, not China or its military. He said the sanctions are aimed at imposing costs upon Russia in response to its malign activities.
This is the second time in as many weeks the administration has sanctioned entities related to China. On September 14, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced sanctions against web design and app development companies in China owned and managed by North Koreans.
These firms are Yanbian Silverstar Network Technology Company of Jilin, China; its North Korean chief executive Jong Song Hwa and a sister company, Volasys Silver Star located at Vladivostok, Russia.
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