China threatens retaliation over new US arms sales to Taiwan


BEIJING/TAIPEI (Reuters): China threatened on Thursday (Oct 22) to retaliate against the latest US arms sale to Chinese-claimed Taiwan, as the island welcomed the weapons package but said it was not looking to get into an arms race with Beijing.

The Trump administration has ramped up support for Taiwan through arms sales and visits by senior US officials, adding to tensions between Beijing and Washington, already heightened by disagreements over the South China Sea, Hong Kong, human rights and trade.

Beijing has applied increasing pressure on democratically-ruled Taiwan to accept China's sovereignty, including by flying fighter jets across the sensitive mid-line of the Taiwan Strait, which normally serves as an unofficial buffer.

Responding to the US approval of a potential $1.8 billion arms sale to Taiwan, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said during a daily news briefing that such sales should stop.

The sales "seriously interfere with China's internal affairs, seriously damage China's sovereignty and security interests, send a seriously wrong signal to Taiwan independence forces, and severely damage China-US relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," he said.

"China will make a legitimate and necessary response according to how the situation develops," Zhao added.

He did not give details, but China has sanctioned US companies in the past for selling weapons to Taiwan, though it is unclear what form they have taken.

The latest US arms package includes sensors, missiles and artillery, and further congressional notifications are expected for drones made by General Atomics and land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles, made by Boeing Co, to serve as coastal defence cruise missiles.

In Taipei, Taiwan Defence Minister Yen De-fa thanked the United States and said the weapons were to help Taiwan improve their defensive capabilities to deal with the "enemy threat and new situation".

"This includes a credible combat capability and asymmetric warfare capabilities to strengthen our determination to defend ourselves," he added.

"This shows the importance attached by the United States to security in the Indo Pacific and Taiwan Strait. We will continue to consolidate our security partnership with the United States."

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China US , Taiwan , arms sales , retaliation

   

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