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China summons US ambassador to protest Russia-related sanctions

Then-Governor Terry Branstad speaking with attendees at the 2015 Iowa Growth & Opportunity Party at the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
September 24, 2018

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

China has summoned the U.S. ambassador in Beijing to lodge a formal protest after Washington hit a Chinese military organization with sanctions over its purchases of Russian missiles and fighter jets.

In a September 22 statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry called the U.S. sanctions against China’s Equipment Development Department, and its top administrator, a “serious violation of the basic principles of international law.”

The statement, which came a day after Beijing called on Washington to cancel the sanctions or “bear the consequences,” said the United States has “no right to interfere” with Chinese-Russian military cooperation.

It said Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang summoned U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad to protest the punitive measures over the Chinese entity’s recent purchase of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.

The sanctions were imposed under a 2017 U.S. law known as CAATSA that Congress overwhelming passed over the objections of President Donald Trump.

The law has set up a broad framework to punish Russia for what Washington calls Moscow’s “malign activities.”

The U.S. State Department said that the sanctions announced September 20, which also targeted nearly three dozen Russian individuals and companies with ties to military and intelligence agencies, “are not intended to undermine the military capabilities or combat readiness of any country.”

Instead, their aim is “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,” the State Department said.