Aiming at Kremlin election meddling, US hits Beijing with sanctions

The State Department has imposed sanctions on a central department within the Chinese Ministry of Defense (MOD) for violating U.S.-imposed sanctions on Russia.

The sanctions, leveled Thursday, target the Chinese MOD’s Equipment Development Department (EDD), a division responsible for weapons and equipment used by the People’s Liberation Army, and its head of operations, Li Shangfu

The penalties will forbid the EED export licenses, prohibit it from foreign exchange transactions or using the U.S. financial system and block access to its property in America.

Similarly, the sanctions imposed on Mr. Li block block access to any of his personal property in the U.S. Li is also forbidden from acquiring or possessing a U.S. visa.

The State Department also blacklisted 33 additional Russian personas and entities with connections to with Russian military and its intelligence services under the sanctions.

In a stern rebuke, the Kremlin decried “sanction hysterics” and denounced Washington’s attempt to marginalize Russia’s arms industry, but did not immediately say if retaliation was planned.

President Trump authorized the economic penalties through executive order after China’s purchase of Russian-manufactured fighter aircraft and missiles in violation of the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), passed in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

A contract negotiated in 2017 with Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport, China accepted delivery of 20 Russian Su-35 combat aircraft in 2017. A delivery of a cluster of S-400 surface-to-air missiles was received in 2018.

Considered to be a “significant transaction” by U.S. officials, the transaction triggered sanctions on the Chinese EED under the presidential order aimed at punishing the Kremlin.

“Section 231 of CAATSA and today‚Äôs actions are not intended to undermine the military capabilities or combat readiness of any country, 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,” read, in part, a State Department press release over the new sanctions.

One day following the penalties going into effect, an “outraged” China demanded Washington withdraw the penalties or face consequences.

Beijing’s first step in retaliation was to summon U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstead, lodge “stern representations,” and postpone talks between U.S. and Chinese military officials in Beijing scheduled for late September.

 

[Reuters] [Channel NewsAsia] [AP] [Photo courtesy Voice of Russia/Sputnik]

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