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China-US relations plunge over Taiwanese arms sales

A file photo of Pentagon

NEW YORK (BNS): The bilateral relations between China and US plunged to a low, after the US announced its plan to sell $6.5 billion worth of weapons to Taiwan including the Patriot ground-to-air missiles.

Reports from Washington DC and Beijing say that the communist nation has cancelled the visit of a senior general and has indefinitely banned port visits by American naval ships. China has also cancelled another diplomatic engagement.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said in Beijing that the American decision was a violation of the international law. A spokesman for the ministry said the arms said has “contaminated the sound atmosphere for our military relations and gravely jeopardized China's national security.”

The foreign ministry said the arms sales would severely interfere with “China’s internal affairs”. Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted the spokesman as saying that it is “only natural that this move would stir up strong indignation of the Chinese government and people.” He warned the US, “there is only one China in the world, and that Taiwan is a part of China.”

China do not recognize the independence of Taiwan, and the communist nation’s most military capabilities are targeted at dominating any conflict in the region between China and Taiwan. In 1979, US has signed in a pledge to protect Taiwan from external invasions.

Proposed American weapons for Taiwan include 330 Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missiles, 30 AH-64 Apache Longbow attack helicopters, and 1,000 Hellfire missiles. The sale, initially valued at $12 billion, was originally proposed in 2001, but stiff opposition by China and Taiwanese parliament forced it to be postponed. Equipment such as t Aegis class frigates and F-16 fighters may not be part of the new package.

A US defence department spokesman Major Stewart Upton said the Chinese “reaction is unfortunate and results in missed opportunities.” He said the global security scenario demands that both the sides maintain “close relations to address common security challenges.”

Major Upton said China has cancelled or postponed end November visit at senior levels and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief exchanges.”

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