In a loud and clear message to the United States about its territory, China held military drills off the coast of Taiwan.

In an official statement, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said the military exercises off China’s southeast coast involved the navy and the airforce.

The drill follows US’s arms sales of $2.2 billion, including 108 General Dynamics Corp M1A2T Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger missiles, to self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims to be its territory. Beijing regards Taipei as a breakaway province and has time and again and called it a "sensitive issue."

On Friday, China, according to Al Jazeera, said it would sanction U.S. companies selling weapons to Taiwan. Geng Shuang, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said the arms sales were a violation of international law and harmed China’s sovereignty and national security.

“China’s government and Chinese companies will not cooperate or have commercial contacts with these US companies,” Geng said. “I can’t reveal the details at the moment, but believe this: Chinese people always stress standing by their word,” he added.

The latest tension between China and the U.S. also coincides with a trip by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to the US to gather support. Moreover, Cui Tiankai, Chinese Ambassador to the United States, said any attempts by the US government to split Taiwan from China would "provoke a swift response." The ambassador tweeted that those who play with fire will only get themselves burned.

Political experts highlight Taiwan as a bargaining chip between the U.S and China. James Leibold, an associate professor at La Trobe University said Beijing’s threat of sanctions could escalate the issue.

“Taiwan has become more of a hot button issue fr both governments due to a push for closer relations from Washington,” Leibold explained. “Clearly, come in the Trump administration want to strengthen the alliance with Taiwan,” he said. Leibold added that Taiwan has always been a deeply sensitive issue for China.