Foreign and Military Affairs

China denounces US arms sales to Taiwan

Updated: 2010-01-09 08:09
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BEIJING: China's Defense Ministry on Friday expressed strong indignation and firm opposition to the US arms sales to Taiwan, urging the US to respect China's core interests and immediately withdraw related arms sales items.

"The US side clings obstinately to the Bush administration's plan of arms sales to Taiwan, which severely undermines the mutual trust between the two militaries," said Defense Ministry spokesman Huang Xueping in a statement.

"It also greatly hinders the improvement and development of China-US military ties," Huang said. "We reserve the right of taking further actions."

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Huang's remarks came amid reports that the US Defense Department had recently awarded Lockheed Martin Corp a contract for selling an unspecified number of advanced Patriot missiles to Taiwan.

"We urge the United States to sever military links with Taiwan, in order to avoid further damaging relations between the two countries and the two militaries and the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," he said.

This was the fourth official announcement made by a Chinese spokesperson in a week. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu had previously denounced the US move three times.

Jiang told a regular press conference on Tuesday that China had raised solemn concerns to the US government and urged it to cancel and cease arms sales to Taiwan.

Then China on Thursday again warned the United States of the severe consequences of its arms sales to Taiwan, saying the move would undermine Sino-US cooperation.

"We also persuade the relevant company to stop pushing or participating the arms sales to Taiwan, and refrain from doing anything to harm China's sovereignty and security interests," Jiang said in a statement on Thursday.

The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman repeatedly urged the United States to adhere to the three Sino-US joint communiques, especially the principles established in the Joint Communique on Aug. 17, 1982.

The "Aug. 17 communique" stated that the US would not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan, and intended to gradually reduce arms sales.

However, the US arms sales deal seems to run counter to such commitments.

The Bush administration announced a 6.5-billion-US-dollar arms package for Taiwan in October 2008. The deal included 30 Apache attack helicopters and 330 Patriot missiles. It was the biggest arms sale to Taiwan since China and the United States signed the "August 17 Communique".

The contract with Lockheed Martin Corp this time was a part of that deal in 2008.

The contract also came after China and the United States issued a joint statement in Beijing in November last year, pledging that the two countries would "take concrete steps" to advance "sustained and reliable" military-to-military relations.

The joint statement was issued during US President Barack Obama's first visit to China.

The US side stated that the United States follows its one-China policy and abides by the principles of the three Sino-US joint communiques, said the statement.

The United States welcomes the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties and "more positive and stable" cross-Strait relations, said the statement.

"Under the present backdrop of the peaceful development of the Taiwan Strait, the US insistence to sell arms to Taiwan would undermine the overall interests of China-US relations," said Yang Yi, a strategic expert with National Defense University of China.

"It may also damage the interests of the United States itself," Yang said.

China curtailed some military exchanges with the United States after the Bush administration's proposed arms sales to Taiwan in 2008.

Military relations gradually improved and developed last year, with defense consultations held in Beijing in June, which had been suspended for 18 months.

Vice Chairman of China's Central Military Commission (CMC) Xu Caihou visited the United States from Oct. 24 to Nov. 3 last year, the first senior Chinese military leader visiting the country since Obama assumed the presidency.

During that visit, Xu pointed out to maintain the healthy growth of the military-to-military relationship, several major obstacles needed to be removed, which included the US arms sales to Taiwan.

The two militaries are expected to launch more exchanges in 2010, which would include US Defense Secretary Robert Gates' visit to China and mutual visits by warships.

Analysts were worried that the US arms sales to Taiwan could prevent the healthy growth of China-US ties and could jeopardize the warming of military exchanges.