China slaps sanctions on U.S. CEOs over Taiwan arms sale

STORY: Beijing on Friday imposed economic sanctions on executives at two American aerospace and defense firms, Boeing Defense and Raytheon, moves a foreign ministry spokeswoman said were retaliation for weapons sales to Taiwan.

"China firmly opposes and strongly condemns it. In order to safeguard China's sovereignty and security interests, the Chinese government has decided to sanction those who are involved in this sale of weapons - Chairman and CEO of Raytheon Technologies, (Gregory) Hayes, and Boeing Defense President and CEO, (Ted) Colbert."

The sanctions targeting Boeing Defense President and CEO Ted Colbert and Raytheon Technologies boss Gregory Hayes come after the U.S. State Department earlier this month approved the sale of systems made by the defense firms to Taiwan.

The Pentagon announced the arms package after China ramped up military drills around Taiwan following a visit there in August by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking U.S. official to travel to Taipei in years.

Beijing considers the self-ruled island of Taiwan a wayward province it has vowed to bring under control, by force if necessary.

Taiwan rejects China's claims, saying only its people can decide their future, and vows to defend itself if attacked.

Boeing, meanwhile, has other headaches in China: CEO Dave Calhoun on Thursday said the firm was tired of waiting on Beijing to allow it to deliver 737 MAX jets to Chinese customers.

At an aviation event in Washington he told reporters, "I want to protect our customers in China but you can't wait forever. You've got to move them and there is a big market."

The chief financial officer said the company plans to re-market jets intended to go to China.

Boeing said in July that it had about 290 undelivered airplanes and about half were designated for Chinese customers.

Earlier this week the China Times reported the Chinese-made C919 narrowbody jet would soon win certification from Beijing's regulator.

Produced by state-owned planemaker COMAC, the C919 is China's rival to the Boeing 737 MAX.