China urged the US yesterday to permanently end arm sales to Taiwan, after Taipei reportedly called on Washington to postpone deliveries as it engaged Beijing in bilateral talks.
“China firmly opposes the sale of US weapons to Taiwan and firmly opposes the military relations maintained between the United States and Taiwan,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang (秦剛) told journalists.
“The United States should not just suspend arms sales to Taiwan but stop arm sales permanently,” he said. “Not just partially stop arm sales but thoroughly stop them.”
Qin was responding to US media reports that senior US officials were holding up an US$11 billion arms package and a delivery of dozens of F-16 fighter jets for Taiwan, possibly until US President George W. Bush leaves office.
The Bush administration must give Congress formal notification for the approval of weapons sales to foreign governments, but the Washington Post cited unnamed sources as saying that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley have frozen the deal.
The paper said that no change in policy appeared to have been made, but the effort to send the notifications had been stalled by senior officials including Rice.
The paper said Taiwan had privately urged that the notifications not be sent in the coming weeks as it completes talks with China on launching regular direct flights and expanding tourism.
Rice and other top officials also appeared loath to irritate Beijing amid negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program, it said.
On Wednesday, the Taipei Times quoted Defense News as saying that the US State Department had decided to freeze arms sales to Taiwan.
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