The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is enacting restrictions on American defence manufacturers Lockheed Martin and Raytheon over arms sales to Taiwan.

As part of the sanctions announced by the PRC’s Ministry of Commerce on 16 February, Beijing said Lockheed and Raytheon’s Missiles & Defense division are now barred from doing business in the country.

Taiwan Lockheed Martin F-16V

Source: Republic of China Air Force

A Lockheed Martin F-16V fighter belonging to the Republic of China Air Force. The disputed island’s government operates 110 of the multi-role aircraft

“In order to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests… of the People’s Republic of China… Lockheed Martin Corporation and Raytheon Missiles & Defense are listed on the Unreliable Entities List,” China says.

In addition to a general ban on engaging in commercial activity within China, the Beijing government will ban Lockheed and Raytheon from “making new investments” in the PRC and prohibit “senior management personnel” from entering the country.

The sanctions also carry a hefty financial penalty tied to future arms sales.

“The above-mentioned enterprises shall be fined twice the amount of each enterprise’s arms sales contract to Taiwan since the implementation of the ‘Provisions on the Unreliable Entity List’,” Beijing says.

News of the sanctions follow the recent downing of an alleged Chinese surveillance balloon off the US East Coast by a Lockheed-made F-22 fighter using a Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missile.

Lockheed did not directly address the sanctions but seemed to shift responsibility for Taiwanese arms sales to the US government, noting its international sales are “strictly regulated” by Washington.

“Foreign Military Sales are government-to-government transactions and we work closely with the US government on any military sales to international customers,” the company says.

“Lockheed Martin closely adheres to United States government policy with regard to conducting business with foreign governments,” the jet manufacturer adds, noting it does business in 70 countries.

Raytheon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The sanctions appear to target Raytheon’s defence business specifically. The firm has substantial interests in commercial aviation through subsidiaries Collins Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney.

This is not the first time American arms manufacturers have been the target of Beijing’s ire. In February 2022, Lockheed and Raytheon were both targeted by China over a missile defence system the two firms agreed to provide to Taiwan.

Following a $1.1 billion weapons deal for Taipei’s armed forces announced by Washington last September, China levied sanctions against Boeing Defense, Space & Security chief executive Ted Colbert and Raytheon chief executive Gregory Hayes.

That arms package included an $85 million contract with Raytheon for 100 AIM-9X Sidewinders, plus another $665 million to upgrade and maintain Taiwan’s military surveillance radars.

Boeing received $355 million to provide 60 anti-ship AGM-84 Harpoon missiles.

Beijing at the time said it “firmly opposes” such sales.

“Arms sales greatly undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests, and severely harm China-US relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” said the foreign ministry’s Mao Ning.

Washington downplayed the significance of that sale, affirming its support for a self-governing Taiwan.

“These proposed sales are routine cases to support Taiwan’s continuing efforts to modernise its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” the US Department of Defense said in response to the 2022 sanctions.

Lockheed has also provided significant armaments to the island in recent years, including a 2020 deal for 66 F-16V Viper fourth-generation multi-role fighters.

The Taiwanese air force operates a fleet of 110 of the single-engined fighters, plus 26 employed as trainers, Cirium data suggests.