The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on the Chinese military for buying fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, saying the purchases represent breach of a US sanctions law against Moscow.
The State Department said it will immediately impose sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department, the branch of the Chinese military responsible for weapons and equipment, and its director, Li Shangfu, for engaging in “significant transactions” with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms exporter, Reuters reports.
The sanctions are related to China’s purchase of 10 SU-35 combat aircraft in 2017 and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment in 2018, according to the report.
They block the Chinese agency, and Li, from applying for export licenses and participating in the US financial system. It also adds them to the Treasury Department’s list of specially designated individuals with whom Americans are barred from doing business.
The Trump administration also blacklisted an additional 33 people and entities associated with Russian military and intelligence, adding them to a list under the 2017 law, known Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA.
CAATSA also seeks to punish Russia for its aggression in Ukraine and involvement in Syria’s civil war.
Doing significant business with anyone on that list can trigger sanctions like those imposed on China.
Some of those added to the list, which now contains 72 names, were indicted in connection with Russian interference in the US election, Reuters quoted a State Department official as saying.
Earlier on Thursday, US President Donald Trump issued an executive order intended to facilitate implementation of the sanctions.
One US administration official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said the sanctions imposed on the Chinese agency were aimed at Moscow, not Beijing or its military, despite an escalating trade war between the US and China, Reuters said.
“The ultimate target of these sanctions is Russia. CAATSA sanctions in this context are not intended to undermine the defense capabilities of any particular country,” the official was quoted as saying. “They are instead aimed at imposing costs upon Russia in response to its malign activities.”
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