US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said on Friday that a planned US sale of advanced radar systems to Taiwan is in line with Washington's policy of maintaining good cross-strait relations.
Speaking to reporters after testifying at a closed Congressional hearing on military affairs, he said the US would maintain its longstanding delicate policy of safeguarding Taiwan's security and respecting the "one China" principle.
The Pentagon said earlier this week that Taiwan had requested the sale of two ultra-high frequency long-range early warning radar systems capable of detecting ballistic and cruise missiles. The radar systems are reportedly worth nearly US$1.8 billion.
The US announcement came amid growing uncertainty over the situation in the Taiwan Straits following the re-election last month of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
Wolfowitz was asked on Friday to explain why the Pentagon decided to announce the arms sales just after Taiwan's election, which China said could send a wrong signal to separatists in Taiwan and would lead to further tension.
"We conduct our arms sales to Taiwan within the framework of a longstanding policy that is aimed at encouraging good communications, cross-Strait, and encouraging a peaceful resolution of differences between the two sides," Wolfowitz said.
"And we've got to continue pursuing that policy in a careful way as we have for a long time," Wolfowitz said.
A day after the Pentagon announced the planned sale on Wednesday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing said that his government would seek clarification from the US.
China now has roughly 500 ballistic missiles within range of Taiwan and is adding more at a rate of about 75 a year, according to US officials.
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