China and Russia are teaming up against Washington with a stern warning: Remove the sanctions, or else.
Beijing and Moscow have both hit out at the White House over sanctions imposed against China for buying Russian fighter jets, warning that Washington was “playing with fire” and would “bear the consequences” if the decision was not reversed.
On Thursday, the U.S. State Department announced it would be adding a Chinese military organization and its leader to the Blocked Person List for completing “significant transactions” with Russia's state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport.
The transactions in question were the purchases of Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles.
“We strongly call on the U.S. to remedy the mistake and cancel the sanctions. Otherwise, the U.S. has to bear the consequences,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Friday.
Over in Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the U.S. was “playing with fire” by punishing China.
“It would be good for them to remember there is such a concept as global stability which they are thoughtlessly undermining by whipping up tensions in Russian-American ties,” Ryabkov said.
For years Russia viewed China suspiciously and was wary of selling them military hardware, but in recent years, the two superpowers have come closer together, culminating earlier this month when Chinese forces took part in giant Russian war games for the first time.
China has been developing its own homegrown military hardware but still likes to purchase more advanced weaponry — particularly aircraft — from Russia.
The U.S. says China’s purchase is in contravention of sanctions it has placed on Russia over its actions in Ukraine and its interference in the 2016 presidential election — but China has not joined in the sanctions imposed on Moscow by the U.S. and its Western allies since 2014.
As well as fraying an already tenuous relationship with Moscow, the new sanctions will add to the tension between Washington and Beijing that has been building in recent most of an increasingly bitter trade war.
Cover: Sukhoi Su-35 multipurpose fighter jets of the Russian Falcons aerobatics team perform a demonstration flight at the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2017 in Zhukovsky. Iliya Pitalev/Sputnik via AP