CHINA> National
US decision to sell arms hurts trust
By Li Xiaokun and Li Xiang (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-10-08 06:53

A $6.4 billion deal to sell US arms to Taiwan has ruined years of Chinese efforts to build military trust with the Pentagon, and Washington should bear full responsibility for the consequences, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Tuesday.

He made the remarks after the US government announced plans on Friday to sell a massive arms package to the island, including 30 Apache attack helicopters and 330 Patriot missiles.

Describing the deal as "reckless", China said the arms sale threatens its national security and harms Sino-US relations.

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US media have reported that, in response, Beijing has abruptly canceled a series of military and diplomatic contacts with Washington.

China has notified the US that it will not go forward with several senior-level visits and other military-to-military plans scheduled for November, Marine Major Stewart Upton, a US Defense Department spokesman, said on Monday.

The MND spokesman did not comment directly on the reports, only saying the US move has "severely hampered bilateral military exchanges in various fields, including high-level communication".

The US arms package has "undoubtedly vitiated the atmosphere for bilateral military relations and gravely jeopardized China's national security".

He urged the US to keep the promise it made to China on the Taiwan question, cancel the arms sale immediately and cut military connections with the island to avoid damaging peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits and Sino-US military relations.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made similar remarks Tuesday.

In particular, he pointed out that the Taiwan Relations Act, which Upton claimed is the basis of US arms sales to Taiwan, runs counter to the three Sino-US joint communiques and basic principles that underscore international relations.

According to the three documents, the US should gradually reduce arms sales to the island.

The proposed arms sale is partly motivated by Washington's strategy of maintaining its leverage on cross-Straits relations, Tao Wenzhao, a senior researcher on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said.

"Cross-Straits relations are improving, and the US doesn't want to be left out. The arms sale to the island shows that Washington still wants to maintain its influence as an outside balancer in the region," he said.

Qin Tuesday also said he hoped the Nobel Peace Prize is given to the "right" person.

He said the prize had in the past been given to some wrong people. "Some of the prizes went against Mr (Alfred) Nobel's initial purpose. We hope the prize is awarded to the right people."