China demands US cancel USD 330 million arms deal with Taiwan

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BEIJING, Sept 25 (PTI): China on Tuesday asked the US to cancel the proposed USD 330-million arms deal with Taiwan, warning “severe damage” to bilateral ties, peace and stability in the region.

China views self-ruling Taiwan, an island which has been independent since 1950, as a rebel region that must be reunited with the mainland – by force if necessary.

Amid the rising tensions with China over the on-going trade war and sanctions imposed on the Chinese military procurement unit for Russian Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 missiles, the US on Monday said it has approved the sale of spare parts and related support for Taiwan’s US-made F-16 fighters and other military aircraft in a USD 330 million contract.

Washington justified the sale saying that will improve Taiwan’s ability to defend itself without altering the basic military balance in Asia, where the US is locking horns with Beijing for strategic dominance.

Reacting angrily against the US arms sale to Taiwan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told media here on Tuesday that Washington should cancel the deal immediately.

The sale violated international law and the “basic norms governing international relations,” Geng said without elaborating.

“We urge the US side to… immediately cancel this arms sale plan, and stop military contact with Taiwan so as to avoid severe damage to China-US ties, peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and bilateral cooperation in major fields,” he said.

Separately China’s defence ministry issued a statement stating that the arms sale plan had “interfered in China’s internal affairs and harmed China’s sovereignty and security interests”.

A commentary by the overseas edition of the Communist Party’s mouth piece People’s Daily said the arms deal represented interference in China’s domestic politics and violated China’s sovereignty.

“We call on the US to cancel the deal and cut off military ties with Taiwan to avoid causing damage to China-US military relations and peace in the Taiwan Strait,” the commentary said.

China claims Taiwan which was estranged from the mainland as part of its territory and makes it mandatory for all countries having diplomatic ties with it to observe ‘one china policy’.

The US and several other countries including India maintain economic and trade ties with Taiwan without formal diplomatic ties.

The proposal will go before the US Congress and covers spare parts for F-16, C-130 and F-5 indigenous defence fighter jets, and other aircraft systems. Congress has 30 days to raise objections to the sale.

China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, when the defeated Nationalist government fled to the island.

China insists that a foreign country cannot have official ties with both Beijing and Taipei at the same time. Taiwan has formal diplomatic ties with only a handful of countries.

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