China summoned the United States ambassador on Saturday after the US imposed sanctions on a branch of its military, according to Chinese state media.
The announcement came a day after China “strongly urged” the US to cancel the sanctions or “bear the consequences”.
The dispute has increased tensions between Washington and Beijing, amid a brewing trade war between the two world powers.
China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang summoned Ambassador Terry Branstad and “lodged solemn representations” in relation to the sanctions, state media reported.
On Thursday, Washington imposed sanctions on the Equipment Development Department (EED) of the Chinese defence ministry, and its director Li Shangfu, over the purchase of missiles and fighter jets from Russia.
The sanctions triggered a visa ban and prohibited the EED and its director from conducting transactions with the US financial system.
The US state department said the Chinese procurement of S-400 surface-to-air missiles and Sukhoi SU-35 jets from Russia breached a US sanctions law targeting Russia for its alleged meddling in the 2016 US election and its activities in Ukraine.
US officials said the imposition of penalties against China was the first time a third-party country was punished under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, the sanctions law passed in 2017.
The Chinese military denounced the sanctions on Saturday, expressing “strong indignation and resolute opposition”, a defence ministry spokesperson told state-run news agency Xinhua.
The US move was “a flagrant breach of basic rules of international relations” and a “stark show of hegemonism”.
Russia also protested the sanctions, warning that Washington was “playing with fire” and accusing the United States of trying to squeeze Russia out of the global arms market.
The Trump administration also added 33 people and entities associated with the Russian military and intelligence services to a blacklist. Twenty-eight of the new names have been indicted by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.