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China says US-Taiwan arms deal will harm ties

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Taiwan's F-16 fighters.

BEIJING (AFP): China warned that a USD 5.85 billion deal announced Thursday to upgrade Taiwan’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets would damage Sino-US relations.

Chinese vice foreign minister Zhang Zhijun was instructed to summon US ambassador to China Gary Locke and lodge a strong protest, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.

“The wrongdoing by the US side will inevitably undermine bilateral relations as well as exchanges and cooperation in military and security areas,” said Zhang.

“China strongly urges the United States to be fully aware of the high sensitivity and serious harm of the issue, seriously treat the solemn stance of China, honour its commitment and immediately cancel the wrong decision,” he told Locke, according to Xinhua.

He asked the United States to stop arms sales and military relations with Taiwan and work with China to safeguard Sino-US relations and secure peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Zhang said the Taiwan issue concerned China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and was always the most important and most sensitive core issue in China-US relations.

Zhang Yesui, Chinese ambassador to the United States, also lodged a strong protest on behalf of the Chinese government in Washington, Xinhua said.

Shortly after an announcement in Taipei, the Pentagon said it had formally notified Congress of the deal that will include equipment, parts, training and logistical support.

The Pentagon announced the deal in three parts valued at USD 5.3 billion, USD 500 million and USD 50 million. The deal includes a retrofit of the island’s F-16 A/B aircraft “which will greatly enhance the recipient’s ability to defend its borders,” a Pentagon statement said.

China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory, this week warned Washington against helping Taiwan upgrade its air force.

Washington recognises Beijing rather than Taipei but remains a leading arms supplier to the island of 23 million inhabitants, providing a source of continued Sino-US tension.

Ties between China and Taiwan have improved since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power in 2008 on promises of ramping up trade links and allowing in more Chinese tourists.

But Beijing has refused to renounce the use of force against Taiwan even though the island has ruled itself for more than six decades since their split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

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China  Taiwan  F-16  US  
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