by TYLER DURDEN at zerohedge.com
In a major move by Beijing which appears timed to send a strong message just ahead of Taiwan’s presidential and parliamentary elections on January 13, China has unveiled sanctions against five American defense firms.
The targeted companies are involved in recent and ongoing US arms deals and sales to the self-ruled island of Taiwan. They’ve been named in Chinese state media as BAE Systems Land and Armament, Alliant Techsystems Operation, AeroVironment, ViaSat and Data Link Solutions.
A Sunday statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the sanctions are “In response to these gravely wrong actions taken by the US.” It said recent arms sales “seriously harm China’s sovereignty and security interests, undermine the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
China has of late ramped up its anti-independence messaging, with Chinese President Xi Jinping in his annual New Year’s Eve address stressing that Taiwan would “surely be reunified” with the mainland.
The US State Department just last month approved the latest US-Taiwan deal, a $300 million sale of military equipment for Taiwan’s defense information technology sector.
But these new sanctions are being widely seen as mostly symbolic, given these major defense firms don’t typically do business in China to begin with.
“The sanctions will freeze any property the companies have in China and prohibit organizations and individuals in China from doing business with them,” the Foreign Ministry specified in an online statement.
Beijing is also sending strong signals to the United Kingdom as well with the following surprise, and very bold move:
China has detained the head of an overseas consulting firm for allegedly spying on the Asian nation for the British government, putting renewed focus on an industry targeted by Beijing’s national security crackdown.
China’s spy agency said Monday that the U.K.’s MI6 intelligence service employed the consultant from a “third country” to carry out espionage activities. The alleged spy, surnamed Huang, provided the U.K. with state secrets and intelligence, according to the Ministry of State Security’s [MSS] official WeChat account.
The MSS alleges the man “entered China several times under instructions to use their public profile as a cover to collect China-related intelligence for Britain… and seek other personnel whom MI6 could turn.” China is also claiming to have evidence of Huang’s spy activities.