▲Zhao Lijian Photo: VCG
China announced two reciprocal sanctions on the US over its latest arms sales to the island of Taiwan and its crackdown on Chinese media on Monday a week ahead of the US presidential election.
The latest response with unprecedented scale and strength against firms, individuals, entities and media outlets, which came after an event in China to commemorate a war against US aggression in Korea 70 years ago, sends a clear signal that China’s decision-making won’t be disturbed by the US and any act that has undermined China’s sovereignty, security and development interests is bound to face serious consequences, analysts said.
China’s latest countermeasures also highlighted a major shift in its diplomatic approach toward the US, and the “media war” as well as other areas of bilateral relationships could fall into the same trap as the “trade war,” where toe-to-toe measures persisted before the two sides eventually reach a temporary deal, analysts said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian announced at a routine press conference on Monday China will sanction firms including Lockheed Martin, Boeing Defense, Raytheon as well as individuals and entities that are involved in arms sales to the island of Taiwan. The sanctions were in response to recently approved US arms sales to Taiwan on October 21, which could have a total value of $1.81 billion, Zhao said.
Meanwhile, China demanded that China-based branches of six US media in the country declare in written form the information about their staff, finance, operation and real estate in China within 7 days from Monday in a reciprocal measure against US decision to designate six more Chinese media as “foreign missions” on Wednesday.
The six US media outlets include American Broadcasting Corporation, The Los Angeles Times, Minnesota Public Radio, Bureau of National Affairs, Newsweek and Feature Story News.
The above-mentioned measures are entirely necessary and reciprocal countermeasures that China is compelled to take in response to the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organizations experience in the US. They are legitimate and justified self-defense in every sense, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a statement published on its website on Monday night.
Only 9 days to the US election, China announced two reciprocal countermeasures in one day, which showed that no matter who will be elected president, as long as the US damages China’s interests, China will resolutely fight back, Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday.
“But the countermeasure on another six US media outlets in China is a brief interlude in China-US tensions, as the US government has been in an unprecedented mess and many of its policies are absurd.”
The “media war” initiated by the US has been constantly escalating. The US attempted to pressure China into making so-called “changes.” But it has proved that the strategy won’t work and unreasonable suppression on China will definitely face firm countermeasures, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Monday.
Li stressed that China’s recent countermeasures highlighted a major shift in China’s diplomatic approach toward the US – that is it does not compromise when it comes to protecting its interests. He predicted that the “media war” and other areas of the China-US relationships could fall into the same trap as the “trade war,” where toe-to-toe measures persisted before both sides eventually reach a temporary deal.
In the following three months, the US government might take more actions to contain China. Also, there will be no progress and breakthroughs in any area of bilateral relations. But no matter who is elected US president, the room for him to flexibly handle the policy toward China will be narrowed, Li said.
“China will make its policies toward the US according to its own interests and rhythm, and will not be affected by the US domestic agenda,” Li added.
At the routine press conference, Zhao did not outline the details of the sanctions over arms sales to Taiwan. However, analysts reached by the Global Times on Monday floated theories that China’s retaliations against such foul acts by the US could range from restrictions on rare earth imports to obstructing entry into the civilian market entry from the firms, individuals and entities involved.
China has many options at hand to give them a hard time. A restriction on the rare-earth supply chain is apparently one of them, as it could effectively hurt the firms’ raw materials processing stage in their defense business sector. And limits on their civilian market entry in China could hurt them even more, as no sensible company could afford to lose the most vibrant market in the world, Li elaborated.
Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Monday that Boeing might be affected the most by the new sanctions, as the broader Boeing company has larger scale civilian and commercial business connection in China than others on the list.
The individuals and entities on the sanction list are very likely to include US politicians such as Senator Marco Rubio who reportedly applauded the White House’s approval, Song said.
On top of conventional sanctions against firms – such as simply ending their trade contracts – China could target high-tier employees more precisely by freezing their bank accounts in China, or restricting their travel to China as well as their business activities including exchanges with smaller firms in downstream supply chains in China, Wang Ya’nan, a defense industry expert and chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge, told the Global Times on Monday.
But Wang said he believed that the civilian business in China of these firms, especially Boeing, would be barely affected by the sanctions.
“Boeing applies very strict divisions in its defense and civilian businesses, and Beijing will only target the offensive defense sector of the company rationally,” the expert said.