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US/Taiwan/China - arms deal controversy

China angered over US arms sale to Taiwan

Article published on the 2010-01-30 Latest update 2010-01-30 15:23 TU

US soldiers demonstrate weaponry to Taiwan's Defence Minister(Photo: Taiwan Military News Agency handout via Reuters)

US soldiers demonstrate weaponry to Taiwan's Defence Minister
(Photo: Taiwan Military News Agency handout via Reuters)

China has suspended a military visit with the US over Washington's plans to sell arms to Taiwan. The Obama administration informed Congress Friday that it had approved a sale of 6.4 billion dollars (4.6 billion euros) of arms to Taiwan. China, which considers Taiwan a part of its territory, had warned against the sale.

"Considering the severe harm and odious effect of US arms sales to Taiwan, the Chinese side has decided to suspend planned mutual military visits," the Defence Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

China and the US had planned military visits on Sunday.

China had repeatedly warned against the arms deal, and reacted strongly when it was announced.

"The United States' announcement of the planned weapons sales to Taiwan will have a seriously negative impact on many important areas of exchanges and co-operation between the two countries," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei said in a statement published on the foreign ministry website.

"This will lead to repercussions that neither side wishes to see," he added.

The Obama administration has agreed to sell an arms package to Taiwan that includes 114 Patriot missiles, 60 Black Hawk helicopters and communications equipment for F-16 fighter planes, though it does not include the planes themselves, something Taiwan had asked for.

"This is a clear demonstration of the commitment that this administration has to provide Taiwan the defensive weapons it needs," US State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley said Friday, adding that the sale is “consistent with the US one-China policy”.

Since 1979, the US has recognised Beijing as the only Chinese government, but Congress still requires the US to sell weapons to Taiwan for its self-defence.

Taiwan requested the weapons in reaction to China’s growing military budget, though the two have been making moves towards each other recently, agreeing to work together economically, and to further co-operation.

“If we take a very close look, this should not send a wrong signal to China,” analyst Joanna Lei Chen, a former lawmaker, who remains close to the ruling Kuomintag party, told RFI.

Analysis: Joanna Lei Chen, Taiwan analyst

30/01/2010 by Salil Sarkar

She says the arms package does not include the more controversial items requested, like the F-16 planes. Instead, it would be defence material.

“There is no such attempt of increasing Taiwan offensive capital; instead, this package consists entirely of defensive weapons,” she said.

While she says the arms deal does more harm to US/China relations than to relaions with Taiwan, it is still a delicate situation.

“Even the hint - or potential hint - of a threat of a war would be considered a very confusing signal in a time when everybody is trying to move in a direction of peaceful co-development,” she said.

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