United States slaps sanctions on Chinese military over its relationship with Russian Federation

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Beijing called on the United States on Friday to withdraw sanctions it imposed on a Chinese military organisation for buying Russian weapons or "bear the consequences".

China bought S-400 missiles and 10 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets from Russian Federation, and has refused to join the USA and its allies in imposing sanctions on Russian Federation over its actions in Ukraine and in US politics. EDD and its director, Li Shangfu, were hit with sanctions because of the purchases made from Rosoboronexport, Russia's main arms export entity already on the Caatsa blacklist for its support of the Assad regime in Syria.

In another move, the USA reportedly ordered Chinese official state-run news agency Xinhua and the China Global Television Network (CGTN), to register as foreign agents under the Nazi-era Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

"The US actions have seriously violated the basic principles of worldwide relations and seriously damaged the relations between the two countries and the two militaries", said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, adding Beijing had lodged an official protest with the United States.

China has not become part of the sanction imposed on Russian Federation by Washington and its allies since 2014.

A politician in Moscow said the USA sanctions would have no impact on the sales of its fighter jets and missiles.

Anyone engaging with Russian defense contractors or people associated with them can face economic sanctions that include prohibitions from entering the US or from conducting transactions with the USA financial system under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

China's purchase of the weapons from Rosoboronexport, Russia's main arms exporter, violated a 2017 law, the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), meant to punish the government of President Vladimir Putin for interfering in USA elections and other activities.

"CAATSA sanctions in this context are not meant to undermine the defence capabilities of any particular country", the official said.

For many years, China was Russia's biggest military client, relying on Moscow for advanced weapons and adapting some of the technology for its own systems. "But rather to impose costs on Russian Federation in response to its interference in the United States election process, its unacceptable behaviour in eastern Ukraine, and other malign activities".

And in November 2015, China became the first overseas client to buy Russia's most advanced fighter jet when it signed a US$2.5 billion contract for 24 Su-35s.

Security analysts in Asia said the move was largely symbolic and would only push Moscow and Beijing closer together.

China's Foreign Ministry asked the U.S.to reconsider the sanctions.

This is the first time Trump administration targeted a third country with its Caatsa sanctions, created to punish Russian Federation for its seizure of Crimea and other activities.

The Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (Caatsa) was passed in 2017 to provide the Trump administration with the necessary means to target Russia, Iran and North Korea with economic and political sanctions.

The official declined to answer if the United States would take similar action if Russian Federation delivers S400 missiles to other countries such as Turkey, which is in talks to buy them. It can target stealth warplanes, such as the Pentagon's latest F-35 fighter jet.

"This is a significant step", a senior administration official told reporters.