China has asked the US to immediately stop the proposed sale of $2.2 billion-worth arms to self-ruled Taiwan which it considers as part of its territory under the ‘one- China principle’.
Beijing’s demand came after the US State Department approved the arms sale — the biggest in decades — which awaits final clearance by the Congress.
The proposed sale comes amid strained relations between China and the US over worsening trade disputes.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the proposed arms deal will seriously violate the ‘one-China principle’ and interfere in the mainland’s internal affairs.
Geng said the US should immediately cancel the deal if it wants healthy relations between Beijing and Washington and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
But the US said the arms sale would contribute to peace and stability in Asia, facilitate modernisation of Taiwan’s main battle tank fleet and improve its air defence system.
Allaying China’s fears, it said the arms sale will not affect the military balance in the region.
Washington said there is no change of course in its one-China policy adding that it always promoted cross-strait peace and stability.
The proposed arms deal includes 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger portable anti-aircraft missiles but no F-16V jets Taipei had asked for.
Taiwanese foreign ministry said the procurement of US tanks and missiles will boost the defence capability of the self-ruled island which faces threats and pressure from China.
President Tsai Ing-wen, who refuses to acknowledge Taiwan as part of ‘One China, said the new arms will deter potential military threats, and ensure peace in the Taiwan Strait and the wider region.
Although the US does recognise Taiwan as a nation, it considers it as an important ally and supplies arms to the island for its self-defence. However, it had never announced such massive arms deal as the present one.