Sun, Jul 14, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Taipei defends US arms sale as China threatens sanctions

NONE IN THE CHAMBER:Beijing’s sanctions would target US firms that have been barred from dealing with China since the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown

AP and Reuters, TAIPEI, BEIJING and WASHINGTON

Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi pauses at a joint news conference with Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto following their talks in Budapest on Friday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

The government yesterday defended a proposal to purchase US$2.2 billion in arms from the US, following an announcement by Beijing that it would sanction any US companies involved in the deal.

US weapons help strengthen Taiwan’s self-defense in the face of a growing military threat from China, the Ministry of National Defense said.

“The army will continue to strengthen its key defense forces, ensure national security, protect its homeland and ensure that the fruits of freedom and democracy will not be attacked,” the ministry said in a statement.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) on Friday said that the arms deal constituted a serious breach of international law and basic norms governing international relations.

He added that the deal is a serious breach of the “one China” policy, under which the US officially recognizes Beijing and not Taipei.

“To safeguard our national interests, China will impose sanctions on the US enterprises involved in the above-mentioned arms sales to Taiwan,” Geng said.

The US Department of State declined to comment and the US firms involved in the arms deal did not immediately respond.

It was unclear what, if any, effects the Chinese move might have, as US defense contractors have been barred from dealings with Beijing since the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.

While its relations with Taiwan are technically unofficial, the US is required by its Taiwan Relations Act to assist Taiwan in its defense and is its main supplier of arms.

The administration of US President Donald Trump earlier this week announced the proposed US$2.2 billion deal, which would include 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks and 250 FIM-92F Stinger surface-to-air missiles.

“We urge the US to abide by the ‘one China’ principle and ... cease official exchanges with Taiwan and refrain from providing any platform for separatist Taiwan independence forces,” Geng said.

On a visit to Budapest on Friday, Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi (王毅) warned Washington that it should “not play with fire” over Taiwan, saying that no foreign force could stop the “reunification” of China and no foreign force should try to intervene.

“We urge the US to fully recognize the gravity of the Taiwan question ... [and] not to play with fire on the question of Taiwan,” Wang told a news conference via an interpreter.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), speaking in New York on Friday, said that her government has strengthened Taiwan’s national defense to protect its democracy, according to a transcript posted on the Presidential Office’s Web site.

She also dismissed the Chinese criticism.

“We don’t need our neighbor to make irresponsible remarks,” the Central News Agency quoted her as telling reporters.

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