Home World News China Protests US Arms Sale To Taiwan

China Protests US Arms Sale To Taiwan


18Taiwan-web-master675Assistant Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang told the American diplomat, Kaye A. Lee, in the meeting Wednesday night that Taiwan was “an inalienable part of China’s territory” and that Beijing strongly opposed the sale, according to a statement posted Thursday on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

“To safeguard our national interests, China has decided to take necessary measures, including imposing sanctions against companies involved in the arms sale,” Mr. Zheng said at the meeting, according to the statement.

Front pages of Sunday newspapers in Taiwan were dominated by reports on the meeting between President Xi Jinping of China and President Ma Ying-jeou the day before.

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The United States is required to provide weapons for Taiwan’s defense under a law dating to 1979, when Washington was shifting diplomatic recognition to Beijing and away from Taipei. In many ways, China’s reaction to the latest arms sale followed a familiar pattern.

Government officials from both China and Taiwan, also known as the Republic of China, issued statements on Tuesday about a United States arms delivery to the island. By REUTERS on Publish Date December 17, 2015. Photo by Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press.

The last American arms sale to Taiwan, four years ago and bigger than the sale just announced, also resulted in a United States diplomat being summoned at night — also on a Wednesday — to the Foreign Ministry in Beijing to receive stern rebukes, as the Chinese view arms sale to Taiwan as an affront to their sovereignty.

Taiwan has been governed separately from the mainland since 1949, when the American-supported Nationalist forces retreated to the island after being defeated in the Chinese civil war by the Communists.

Evan S. Medeiros, who until this year was the top official overseeing Asia at the National Security Council, said that the explicit threat of sanctions against companies differed from earlier sales, when the threat was more implicit. At the same time, Mr. Medeiros noted, earlier arms sales resulted in the suspension of meetings between the two militaries, which was not part of China’s initial response to the sale this time.

Mr. Medeiros, who now leads the Asia practice for the Eurasia Group in Washington, said that the timing of the sale, coming before next month’s presidential elections in Taiwan, helped to reduce diplomatic fallout from the sale.

Taiwan’s president, Ma Ying-jeou, has sought to improve ties with mainland China and met last month in Singapore with President Xi Jinping of China, the first time the leadersof Taiwan and China have ever held a summit meeting. But Mr. Ma’s party, the Kuomintang, is expected to lose the presidency to the Democratic Progressive Party, which favors a more distant relationship with the mainland and the assertion of Taiwan’s own identity.

“The timing clearly was calibrated to avoid having to do it after the election,” Mr. Medeiros said, speaking in a telephone interview from Taiwan, where he was meeting officials. “That would have been particularly provocative.”

The sale is significantly smaller than the $5.8 billion package approved by the United States in 2011, and it is not expected to alter the military balance across the Taiwan Strait, which has tilted in Beijing’s favor after years of large increases in military spending by the mainland, whose annual military budget is now more than 13 times greater than Taiwan’s. Absent from the arms package is any assistance from the United States to help build diesel-electric submarines, a top priority for Taiwan, which wants to replace its aging fleet.

The proposed sale includes two Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, ships first commissioned by the United States Navy in the 1970s; data link systems; surface-to-air missiles; antitank missiles; amphibious assault vehicles; and shipborne rapid-fire guns intended to counter missiles.

Any sanctions against military contractors would most likely be limited because American weapons-makers have been banned for more than a quarter-century from selling arms to mainland China. The United States and the European Union imposed arms embargoes on China after the deadly crackdown on student protests in and around Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989.

Still, some military contractors, such as Boeing and United Technologies, have extensive nonmilitary businesses in China.

The companies that manufacture the weapons systems the United States government announced on Wednesday include Raytheon, which makes antitank missiles, a shipborne close-in weapons system and the shoulder-launched Stinger antiaircraft missile. Lockheed Martin makes the Javelin antitank missile with Raytheon, which was also part of the proposed sale.

“The Chinese can react to this as they see fit,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the State Department, told reporters in Washington on Wednesday. “This is nothing new. Again, it’s a cleareyed, sober view of an assessment of Taiwan’s defense needs. And that’s what drove this. There’s no need for it to have any derogatory effect on our relationship with China, just like there was no need in the past for it to ever have that effect on China.”

The weapons sale to Taiwan is subject to congressional approval. Members of both the Republican and Democratic parties have expressed support for the sale.

Kiki Zhao contributed research from Beijing.

Source: The New York Times

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