China threatens to sanction US firms over sales of F-16s to Taiwan

China threatens to sanction US firms over sales of F-16s to Taiwan
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China on Wednesday threatened to sanction any U.S. firm associated with the planned sale of 66 F-16 jets to Taiwan as the relationship between Washington and Beijing continues to deteriorate. 

The U.S. should “immediately back away” from the arms sale, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters, according to The Associated Press.

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“China will take all necessary measures to safeguard its own interests, including imposing sanctions on U.S. companies involved in this arms sale to Taiwan,” Geng added, warning that the U.S. would “bear all the consequences arising from” the arms sale. 

He did not specify any measures China plans to take.

The threat comes as Washington and Beijing are mired in a mushrooming trade war, with each side slapping tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of goods. 

The Trump administration formally notified Congress on Tuesday of the potential $8 billion sale of fighters to Taiwan despite vocal opposition from China, which considers the self-governed island to be its own territory.

Though Washington has not sold Taiwan any new fighter jets since the George H.W. Bush administration, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoFive takeaways from ex-ambassador's dramatic testimony Pompeo: No US response ruled out in Hong Kong Ousted ambassador describes State Department in 'crisis' in dramatic impeachment testimony MORE on Monday seemed to downplay the sale, saying it is “deeply consistent with the arrangements, the historical relationship between the United States and China.” 

Under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the U.S. will "provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character."

"Our actions are consistent with past U.S. policy. We are simply following through on the commitments we’ve made to all of the parties,” he said during a Fox News interview.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen thanked the U.S. on Tuesday for the sale, saying it reaffirms “the United States’ long-standing commitment to helping maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” according to the AP.

The deal still has to be approved by Congress, though it has already received bipartisan endorsements from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.