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China sanctions Raytheon, Lockheed over Taiwan deal

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — China said Monday it will impose new sanctions on U.S. defense contractors Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin due to their arms sales to Taiwan, stepping up a feud with Washington over security and Beijing’s strategic ambitions.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin announced the move at a daily press briefing, citing a newly passed Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law that took effect in 2021. It was in response to a $100 million deal approved by the U.S. for maintenance of Taiwan’s missile defense systems by the two companies.

“China once again urges the U.S. government and relevant parties to . . . stop arms sales to Taiwan and sever military ties with Taiwan,” Wang said.

“China will continue to take all necessary measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty and security interests in accordance with the development of the situation,” he said without giving any details.

Taiwan is a democratically self-governed island that communist-ruled China claims as its own territory. The two sides split amid civil war in 1949.

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The U.S. has no formal relations with Taiwan but is its main ally. It has increased weapons sales in recent years, angering China with the sales. U.S. law requires the government to ensure Taiwan can defend itself.

Beijing regularly pressures American companies to try to influence U.S. policy.

In October 2020, Beijing also announced sanctions against Raytheon and other defense contractors and “relevant American individuals.” A day later, the State Department said it had notified Congress of plans for a $2.37 billion sale of Harpoon attack missiles to Taiwan.

It’s unclear what penalties, if any, were imposed. U.S. weapons or military aircraft sales to Taiwan in 2010, 2015 and 2019 drew similar threats of sanctions.

China maintains that U.S. arms sale to Taiwan violates its so-called “one-China principle” and provisions of agreements between Beijing and Washington.

Tensions over Taiwan have been mounting as Beijing has stepped up military activity around the island to try to force concessions from the pro-independence administration of President Tsai Ing-wen. The Communist Party also is using the Chinese mainland’s growing economic weight to pressure other governments to cut diplomatic and unofficial ties with Taiwan.

Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and other defense industry giants face controls on sales to China of military and dual-use technologies that have both defense and commercial applications. But they also have major civilian businesses and China is a huge market for aviation, among other industries.

Israel on Monday said it successfully tested a new naval air defense system, intercepting a series of threats in what officials called a key layer of protection against Iran and its proxies in the region.

The “C-Dome” system is a naval version of the Iron Dome, which has been used to shoot down rockets fired from the Gaza Strip for the past decade. The C-Dome is being installed on Israel’s latest-generation corvette warships, which protect Israel’s coastline and offshore natural gas assets in the Mediterranean.

The tests simulated a number of incoming threats, including rockets, cruise missiles and drones, the Defense Ministry said.

“The systems that we are developing as part of Israel’s multi-tier missile defense array enable us to operate against Iranian proxies in the region and defend against their weapon systems, which are constantly being upgraded,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said. “We continue to be two steps ahead of them and we will continue developing and upgrading our capabilities in order to maintain security superiority in the region.”

The ministry said the tests were conducted recently, but declined to give a precise timeline.

The C-Dome is to become part of Israel’s multilayer missile defense system — which includes weapons capable of intercepting everything from long-range missiles to short-range rockets.

The test comes at a time of heightened tensions. The Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group launched a pair of drones into Israeli airspace last week, and Iran is believed to be close to signing a new international nuclear deal with global powers that will give it relief from crippling sanctions. Israel opposes the deal, and fears that Iran will divert newly released funds to proxies like Hezbollah.

Hezbollah has made no secret that it would target Israel’s gas platforms if fighting were to break out. Israel and Hezbollah fought a monthlong war in 2006. During that fighting, Hezbollah fired a missile that struck an Israeli warship, killing four Israeli soldiers.

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