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China to halt military contacts with US over arms sales to Taiwan

China-US flag. A file photo.

BEIJING (PTI): China hit back at the US over weapons sales to Taiwan as it announced a series of moves against Washington, including suspension of military exchanges between the two countries.

China will suspend bilateral military programmes and security talks with the US, impose sanctions on companies selling arms, and review co-operation on major issues, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced.

The Obama administration notified the US Congress on yesterday of its first planed arms sales to Taiwan, a potential USD 6.4 billion package including Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot "Advanced Capability-3" anti-missile missiles, and command-and-control technology.

China has decided to partially halt the exchange programs between the militaries of the two countries, as well as the vice-ministerial consultation on strategic security, arms control and anti-proliferation, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported, quoting a Foreign Ministry release.

China will also impose sanctions on US companies involved in the arms sales to Taiwan, it said.

The latest announcement by Beijing means it could jeopardise important bonds of cooperation with Washington, which has looked to China for support in surmounting the financial crisis, dealing with Iran and North Korea, and seeking international agreement on fighting climate change.

According to the Xinhua report, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei today summoned the US envoy Jon Huntsman for an urgent meeting.

The US decision "constitutes a gross intervention into China's internal affairs, seriously endangers China's national security and harms China's peaceful reunification efforts," the Foreign Ministry statement said.

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