China's Foreign Ministry pledged Friday to impose sanctions on American firms to counter the recent U.S. approval to sell weapons to Taiwan.

"We will impose sanctions on U.S. companies that are related to weapon sales in order to safeguard national interests," the ministry said in a statement.

On Thursday, Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the U.S. move "will threaten development of militaries of both counties and damage peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," urging Washington to withdraw its plan.

The U.S. State Department has approved a planned sale of weapons, including tanks and surface-to-air missiles, to Taiwan for an estimated cost of $2.22 billion, the Defense Department said earlier this week.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has forged close relations with self-ruled, democratic Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province awaiting reunification.

Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since they split amid a civil war in 1949. Beijing has since then endeavored to undermine Taipei's quest for international recognition.

China has stepped up such efforts, particularly since President Tsai Ing-wen, who belongs to the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, came to power in Taiwan in May 2016.

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U.S. approves sale of tanks, missiles to Taiwan for $2.22 bil.