China Cancels Military Talks With US, In Protest Over Sanctions On Russian Defence Deal

| September 23 , 2018 , 17:49 IST

Adding to the tensions between the US and China apart from the escalating trade war, China has postponed joint military talks between the US and China over US's decision to sanction a Chinese military agency and its director for buying Russian military equipment, media reported on Sunday.

Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang summoned US Ambassador Terry Branstad to lodge “stern representations”, the foreign ministry said, over the US sanctions on China's purchase of 10 Sukhoi SU-35 combat aircraft and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment, the State Department said.

The Defence Ministry of China in a statement said that it would recall navy chief Shen Jinlong from a visit to the US and postpone talks scheduled to take place in Beijing next week between Chinese and US military officials. The statement added that China's military reserved the right to take further countermeasures, without giving further details.

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Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said that China's decision to buy fighter jets and missile systems from Russia was a normal act of cooperation between sovereign countries, and the United States had “no right to interfere”.

In an official notice from the defence ministry, Wu said, “The U.S. approach is a blatant violation of the basic norms of international relations, a full manifestation of hegemony, and a serious breach of the relations between the two countries and their two militaries.”

The US State Department on Thursday said that it was applying the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) 2017 legislation against the Equipment Development Department (EDD) of the Chinese Ministry of Defense for its purchase of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles.

As a result of the sanctions, EDD and its director Li Shangfu's assets in US jurisdictions would be frozen and EDD's access to global financial markets would also become restricted by the US blocking foreign exchange transactions under US jurisdictions or any transactions in the US financial system.

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A senior US administrative official said,  "CAATSA sanctions in this context are not intended to undermine the defence capabilities of any particular country. They are aimed at imposing costs on Russia in response to its malign activities."

The official added, "We want to stress that the legislative standard here is a significant transaction with an entity that appears on the List of Specified Persons. We took these actions because China took delivery of 10 Sukhoi fighter aircraft, specifically Su-25s, in December of 2017, after the CAATSA statute came into force. It also took delivery of a batch of S-400 sometimes known as SA-21 surface-to-air missile systems or related equipment in January of this year."

China on September 18 had announced that it would be retaliating to the US announcing tariffs on $200 billion in imports from China by announcing tariffs on US goods worth $60 billion.