China has asked the US to withdraw sanctions on its military over purchases of Russian jets and missiles or “bear the consequences”.
The US says China has contravened its sanctions on Russia introduced over Russian actions in Ukraine and alleged interference in US politics.
Beijing recently bought 10 Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 missiles.
China has not joined in the sanctions imposed on Russia by the US and its Western allies since 2014.
Beijing’s forces took part in giant Russian war games held earlier this month.
China is fast becoming a manufacturer of sophisticated weaponry in its own right but it remains eager to buy advanced Russian weaponry, especially air defense systems and combat aircraft.
Russia – after years of some reluctance – is now more willing to transfer this sort of weaponry to China.
Moscow has also criticized the sanctions on the Chinese military, warning the US against “playing with fire”.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a statement: “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.”
US officials have said the sanctions are aimed at Russia, and are not intended to undermine other countries’ defense capabilities and similar action against other countries could be considered.
China’s Equipment Development Department (EDD), which is responsible for improving China’s military technology, and its head, Li Shangfu, are sanctioned for completing “significant transactions” with Russia’s state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport.
The EDD and Li Shangfu have been added to a Blocked Persons List, meaning any assets they hold in the US are frozen and Americans are “generally prohibited” from doing business with them.
Furthermore, the EDD is denied export licenses and excluded from the American financial system.
The US also blacklisted an additional 33 people and entities associated with Russian military and intelligence.
China and the US countries are currently embroiled in an escalating trade war.
President Donald Trump has imposed three waves of tariffs on about 40% of China’s roughly $500 billion of exports to the US and has also threatened further tariffs.
China has responded with tariffs on about $110 billion of US exports. In 2017, China imported about $130 billion of goods from the US.
There have also been some tensions over disputed territory in the South China Sea, which is subject to overlapping claims by six countries.
China has been accused of militarizing the sea to support its vast claims.
The US says it is “committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific” and has sailed warships close to artificial islands built by China to challenge what it sees as Chinese efforts to restrict freedom of navigation in a strategically important area.