US arms sales to Taiwan were one of the main topics raised by China during a visit to Beijing yesterday by US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell.
The meeting was part of a second series of talks on Asia-Pacific affairs to boost bilateral communication and address regional and global issues, co-chaired by Campbell, who is currently visiting the region, and Chinese Vice Deputy Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai (崔天凱).
Cui said US arms sales to Taiwan jeopardized China’s core interests and Sino-US relations and constituted a disruption in the course of the “peaceful development” in the Taiwan Strait.
Such sales will be harmful to US interests in the long term, he said, adding that he hoped Washington would not become involved in any further arms sales to Taiwan, the state-owned Global Times reported last night.
On Monday, Cui had told a press briefing on the meetings that he intended to express Beijing’s strong displeasure about arms sales when he met the US diplomat.
“The United States has time and again sold weapons to Taiwan. So, of course, we will have to express our stern opposition,” The Associated Press quoted him as saying.
However, Cui also appeared to indicate that Beijing wanted to move on from the matter and did not want it to sour the overall mood for the talks.
“By putting these issues on the table tomorrow, we hope to better address these issues and prevent them from excessively interfering in the normal development of China-US relations,” he said.
Beijing has said the announcement by US President Barack Obama’s administration last month of a US$5.85 billion arms package for Taiwan, mostly upgrades for its 145 aging F-16A/Bs, would hurt relations and that it could suspend some military-to-military ties as a consequence.
Some members of the People’s Liberation Army and strong nationalists have called on Beijing to adopt stronger measures, including economic retaliation against military contractors involved in the deal.
China has made it a tradition to protest at US arms sales to Taiwan. It suspended military-to-military ties following the release of a US$6.4 billion arms package by the Obama administration in January last year and vowed to take action against US firms involved in the sale.