The U.S. has frozen all assets of a Chinese military official after it was found that his department had made deals for acquiring Russian weapons. This is in response to an already existing sanction that bans countries that trade with the U.S. from buying Russian weapons.
In 2017, the U.S. had passed a law called the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The act had prepared a list of Russian entities with which American trade partners were expected to abstain from conducting any business. Most of the entities were related to the defense or intelligence sectors of Russia. CAATSA was passed as a measure to punish Russia for interfering with the U.S. elections, being involved in the Syrian conflict, and being aggressive in Ukraine.
The New York Times quotes the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert as saying that the sanctions were implemented in order “to further impose costs on the Russian government in response to its malign activities,” while adding that the U.S. will continue to “urge all countries to curtail relationships with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors, both of which are linked to malign activities worldwide.”
In December 2017, China’s Equipment Development Department purchased 10 SU-35 combat aircraft from a Russian arms exporter, Rosoboronexport. And in January 2018, an S-400 surface-to-air missile system was also bought by the agency.
The U.S. found out about the deals and the involvement of the department’s director Lt. Gen. Li Shangfu. As a consequence, the United States announced sanctions on September 20 that banned both the agency and Li from conducting any financial transactions within U.S. borders. Li was banned from obtaining a visa to the U.S. and has been blocked from accessing his property and assets.
Though the sanction is in line with the U.S. aim to punish Russia, the move is also seen as a strong signal to China amidst the ongoing trade war between the two nations. In April this year, the U.S. had considered sanctioning Chinese banks for dealing with North Korea. However, the plan was scrapped taking into account the potential negative effects it could have on the global financial markets.
More sanctions against China
The United States is also reportedly considering sanctions against Chinese companies that are caught stealing American intellectual property (IP) and trade secrets. The plan to enact these sanctions seems to have been triggered by the dissatisfaction among American tech companies that claim that the government is not doing enough to curb the menace of Chinese corporate theft and espionage.
“We remain frustrated the tariffs do little to address the semiconductor industry’s real problems with China, especially IP theft. We welcome creative efforts by the government to embrace a more muscular stance when it comes to IP enforcement. Let’s not forget that without IP, the modern American economy would wilt, so it must be protected,” South China Morning Post quotes CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association, John Neuffer.
Recently, Trump had prevented a few Chinese companies from taking over U.S. tech firms. This was done to make sure that American technology does not end up getting into the hands of Chinese companies that might use it to gain a competitive advantage against other U.S. businesses. Add to it the fact that the U.S. has imposed tariffs on US$500 billion worth of Chinese goods and additional sanctions against buying weapons from Russia, and it can be seen that America is seriously ramping up its pressure on Beijing.