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J C Menon

China has imposed unspecified sanctions on Lockheed Martin after the U.S State Department approved Taiwan’s request to buy recertification of PATRIOT Advanced Capability-3 missiles for an estimated cost of US$620m. The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) wants to refurbish its Lockheed Martin built PATRIOT surface-to-air, or PAC-3, missiles and extend their operational life to 30 years.

“China firmly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan. We urge US to earnestly abide by the One-China principle, stop selling arms to Taiwan and cut its military ties with Taiwan, so that it will not cause further harm to bilateral ties, peace and security across the Taiwan straits,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

However, he did not spell out what these punitive measures would entail.

“China has decided to take essential measures. We will impose sanctions on main contractor of this sale Lockheed Martin,” he added.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually be part of the country again, though Lockheed Martin has very little exposure to China. However, the company says, “Foreign Military Sales are government-to-government transactions and we work closely with the U.S. government on any military sales to international customers. Discussions about sales to foreign governments are best addressed by the U.S. government.”

Important

The family of PAC-3 missiles are high-velocity interceptors that defend against incoming threats, including tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft. Thirteen nations – the U.S., Germany, Kuwait, Japan, Qatar, the Republic of Korea, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Romania, Poland and Sweden have chosen PAC-3 and PAC-3 MSE to provide missile defence capabilities.

Already in service, the PAC-3 air defence missiles are an important weapon in Taiwan”s high-altitude defence systems and are deployed in major cities and surround Taiwan”s important military facilities, China’s Global Times notes.