The Chinese military also recalled a Chinese naval commander, Shen Jinlong, who was in the United States attending a naval conference, and it postponed a September meeting on joint staff communications between the two nations.
The moves are aimed at pressuring the United States to withdraw the sanctions. The sanctions are “a flagrant breach of basic rules of international relations” and “a stark show of hegemonism,” said Wu Qian, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry, according to the state news agency Xinhua.
The diplomatic dispute adds to rising tensions between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies.
Foreign Ministry officials raised objections to the U.S. ambassador, Terry Branstad, according to People’s Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper.
The State Department confirmed Saturday that Branstad met with Chinese officials but declined to comment further.
On Thursday, the State Department said it was imposing sanctions on the Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Central Military Commission and its top official for “engaging in significant transactions” with a group in the Russian defense sector that is on a list of blacklisted entities.
The transactions involved the purchase of Russian Su-35 combat aircraft and equipment related to the S-400 surface-to-air missile system, the State Department said.
The Chinese received the aircraft in December and an initial batch of the missile equipment this year, the department said. Both were the result of deals negotiated before August 2017 between the Chinese military organization and Rosoboronexport, a state organization that is the main arms exporter of Russia.
Such military cooperation between the countries was normal, and in line with international law, said Wu, the military spokesman, according to the Xinhua report.
The State Department said it was imposing the sanctions against Russian and Chinese officials for violating a law enacted by the U.S. government last year to punish Iran, North Korea and Russia for what U.S. officials called hostile behavior. In the case of Russia, the act is intended to punish its military actions in Ukraine and Syria and cyberinterference in the U.S. presidential election of 2016, among other things.
Tensions between the United States and China have escalated over a trade war that President Donald Trump and his economic advisers started over the summer. Trump announced tariffs last week on an additional $200 billion worth of goods from China, prompting China to retaliate by promising to impose similar tariffs on $60 billion worth of goods from the United States. China also canceled trade talks that had been scheduled for this week in Washington.
Relations between the countries have grown strained on other fronts. Trump administration officials have scolded China for not doing enough to pressure North Korea over its nuclear program; criticized what they call Chinese military expansionism in the Pacific and Indian oceans; and are weighing sanctions against Chinese officials for the repression of ethnic Uighurs in the region of Xinjiang, where up to 1 million Uighurs are being detained in re-education camps.
As well, U.S. officials are anxious about Chinese influence in Latin America. This month, the State Department recalled its three chiefs of mission in Panama, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador as a rebuke to those nations, which recently chose to drop diplomatic recognition of Taiwan in favor of recognizing China. The United States has recognized China since 1979, but wants the handful of small countries that recognize Taiwan to continue doing so as a hedge against Chinese power.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.