US hits China with new sanctions over Russian arms deal

State Department also blacklisting more than 30 people and entities associated with Russia’s military and intelligence

China Military
Chinese soldiers march in formation in Beijing 
(Image credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty)

The US government is imposing sanctions on China’s military for buying fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles from Russia in a move also designed to punish Moscow for its “malign activities”, the State Department announced yesterday.

China recently purchased ten Russian Sukhoi Su-35 jets and S-400 missiles from Russia, contravening “US sanctions on Moscow introduced over Russian actions in Ukraine and alleged interference in US politics”, the BBC reports.

“Today’s actions are not intended to undermine the military capabilities or combat readiness of any country,” the State Department said in a statement about the Chinese sanctions, “but rather to impose costs on Russia in response to its interference in the United States election process, its unacceptable behavior in eastern Ukraine, and other malign activities.”

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The penalties are being applied under a law passed by Congress last year, known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (Caatsa), that “requires the US to sanction anyone undertaking significant transactions with certain people affiliated with Russian intelligence and military services, including arms manufacturers”, says CNN.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also expanded that directory of blacklisted people and entities, adding 33 to bring the total roster of blocked operatives to 72.

China’s Equipment Development Department (EDD) and its head, Li Shangfu, are among those added to the blacklist, for purchasing the weapons from Russia’s state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport. As such, “any assets they hold in the US are frozen and Americans are generally prohibited from doing business with them”.

The new sanctions “will sharpen tensions with Beijing amid a brewing trade war – and further sour relations with Moscow”, The Guardian says.

Since Russia is the world’s second largest seller of weapons, Caatsa has also “raised the awkward prospect that Washington could be in the position of sanctioning allies who buy military equipment from Moscow”, adds CNN.

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