China on Tuesday said it would react “strictly and strongly” should the European Union slap sanctions on Chinese companies accused of selling equipment for Russia to use in its ongoing war against Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Qin Gang said China would “take the necessary response to firmly protect the legitimate interests of Chinese companies.”
Following talks in Berlin with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Qin said Chinese and Russian companies enjoy “normal exchanges and cooperation” which “should not be affected.”
As first reported Sunday by The Financial Times, the EU has proposed sanctions on Chinese companies accused of selling equipment that could be used in weapons to support Russia’s war machine.
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Seven Chinese businesses have been listed in a new package of sanctions that will be discussed by EU member states this week, the report said, citing a copy of the sanctions list seen by the paper.
Targeted in the sanctions list are two mainland Chinese companies, 3HC Semiconductors and King-Pai Technology, along with five from Hong Kong: Sinno Electronics, Sigma Technology, Asia Pacific Links, Tordan Industry and Alpha Trading Investments.
On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin urged the EU to avoid taking the “wrong path,” otherwise it will take firm action to safeguard its rights and interests.
“China opposes actions that use China-Russia cooperation as a pretext to impose illegal sanctions or long-arm jurisdiction against China,” Wang said at a regular news conference.
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Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine 14 months ago, which Russian President Vladimir Putin termed a “special military operation,” the EU has adopted 10 sanctions packages against Russian individuals and companies, inflicting economic hardship and making financing the war more difficult.
EU ambassadors are meeting on Wednesday to begin discussions on an 11th round of sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.
China has tried to assure the world that it is neutral in the Ukraine war, yet has backed Russia politically. Last month, Qin promised that China wouldn’t sell weapons to either side.
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In February, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. had intelligence suggesting China was considering providing arms and ammunition to Russia — and warned that such involvement in the Kremlin’s war effort would be a “serious problem.”
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.