China’s commerce ministry is working on a ‘blacklist’ of US companies which may be involved in the supply of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighter to Taipei, ministry spokesman Gao Feng has announced.
“We are working on the question of placing a number of US companies in a list of unreliable organisations, which will be published in the near future," Gao said, speaking to reporters on Thursday.
"Companies that abide by Chinese laws and contractual spirit needn't worry," he added.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon formally approved an $8 billion contract for the sale of 66 upgraded F-16C/D Block 70 fighter planes and related equipment and support to Taiwan, despite earlier warnings from Beijing not to do so. The US military said the proposed sale, which has been approved by the Trump administration and now needs to clear Congress, would help Taipei modernise its military and preserve the military balance in the region.
On Wednesday, a spokesman from China’s foreign ministry called on the US to “fully recognise the serious dangers” of selling the fighters to the island nation, adding that the decision was a violation of China’s sovereignty and interference in the country’s internal affairs. Beijing maintains that Taiwan is an integral part of China, and intends to see the island’s eventual reintegration and unification with the mainland.
Taiwan already has a fleet of about 150 older F-16A/B-20 fighters, whose delivery was completed in 2001. The Obama administration approved an upgrade for Taiwan's existing F-16s, with upgrades to be completed by 2023.
Earlier this year, the US approved a separate $2.2 billion arms sale to Taiwan including 100 Abrams tanks and Stinger missiles, saying the deal would “promote peace” in the region despite protests from Beijing.
China has repeatedly called US policy toward the island nation the most sensitive issue in China-US affairs. China formally ruptured official ties with the island in 1949, at the conclusion of the Chinese Civil War, when Chinese nationalist forces fled to the island. Beijing and Taipei began establishing economic and diplomatic contacts in the late 1980s. Formally, the US remains committed to supporting the One-China principle, meaning the recognition of a single Chinese state (the People’s Republic of China). Informally, however, it too maintains diplomatic, economic and military contacts with Taiwan, to China’s chagrin.