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China summons US envoy, lodges protest over military sanctions for buying Russian arms: Report

Beijing: China on Saturday summoned the US ambassador to lodge an official protest over sanctions imposed by Washington on a Chinese military unit for purchasing advanced fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, according to a media report. Also, China has cancelled a reported move to send Vice-Premier Liu He to Washington for talks to end the escalating trade war between the world's two largest economies, following imposition of tariffs on Chinese goods by the Trump administration.

 China summons US envoy, lodges protest over military sanctions for buying Russian arms: Report

Representational image. AFP

The Chinese foreign ministry summoned the US ambassador to protest against US sanctions on the equipment development department of the Chinese military and its director, the official media reported on Saturday. The US state department said on Thursday that it would immediately impose sanctions on the equipment development department of the Chinese military and its director, Li Shangfu, for engaging in "significant transactions" with Russia's main arms exporter.

The US said the purchases of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles by China's Equipment Development Department (EDD) of Ministry of Defence has violated US sanctions on Russia. It was the first time the Trump administration targeted a third country with its Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (CAATSA), designed to punish Russia for its seizure of Crimea and other activities.

While the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang on Friday expressed outrage and asked Washington to revoke the decision or face consequences, China's military today expressed indignation over the move. "The Chinese military expressed strong indignation and opposition to US sanctions on the equipment development department of the Chinese military and its director," the state-run China Daily quoted a military spokesman as saying.

Col Wu Qian, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defence said that the military cooperation between China and Russia is within the normal range of cooperation between sovereign states in accordance with international laws, and the US has no right to interfere. The US move has trampled on the basic norms of international relations in a full embodiment of hegemonism, seriously damaging relations between the two countries and their armies, he said.

The Chinese military urged the US to correct its mistake and withdraw sanctions, or bear the consequences, Wu said. Meanwhile, an outraged China reportedly cancelled a planned visit by Chinese vice-premier Liu He to the US to discuss a way out to end the ongoing trade war between the two countries. Confirming the cancellation of the visit of He, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted Chinese officials as saying that Washington needed to "correct its mistakes" regarding its handling of the ongoing tariff war.

Quoting sources, the Post reported that a delegation led by Liu was set to hold talks in the US on Monday and Tuesday but that the trip had now been scrapped. The move followed Trump's decision to slap tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese exports to US. The increase of tariffs by 10 percent on almost half of all goods it imports from China comes to effect from Monday. For its part, China retaliated by slapping tariffs on $60 billion worth of US exports to China. Trump also warned China against any retaliation, saying if Beijing retaliated this time then the US would impose further tariffs on another $267 billion worth of products virtually covering almost all Chinese exports to the US totalling about $522.9 billion.

Trump has been putting pressure on China to reduce the trade deficit totalling $335.4 billion in 2017. Shi Yinhong, a government adviser and professor of international relations at Renmin University, said the current atmosphere was too heated for negotiations to be effective. "The announcement of new tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products by Trump administration indicated that both sides are not calm enough to resume their talks," he was quoted as saying in the report. "It would be self-deprecating if China sent someone to the US right now, because the situation has totally changed," Shi said, adding there is no indication that talks will resume as neither side is showing any sign of softening in their words or deeds.

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Updated Date: Sep 22, 2018 22:34:16 IST