10/14/2008, 00.00
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For China US arms sales to Taiwan will compromise ties with Washington

Beijing indirectly warns US Congress to stop US$ 6.5 billion arms sales, which includes Patriot missiles. For United States such sales are “essential” for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie slammed the recent decision by the United States to sell US$ 6.5 billion worth of arms to Taiwan, including 30 Apache attack helicopters and 330 Patriot missiles.

In a meeting with US Senator Chuck Hagel Mr Liang riled against the “US arms sale plan, [which] regardless of China's repeated opposition, has undoubtedly damaged relations between the two countries and two armed forces seriously, and created obstacles for exchanges and co-operation in various fields, including high-level visits between the two armed forces.”

Beijing is still hopeful though that the United States will “immediately abolish a relevant plan for an arms sale to Taiwan and end military connection(s) with Taiwan to avoid destroying China-US state-to-state and military-to-military relations.”

US Defence Department submitted the proposal to Congress on 3 October to help Taiwan bring its military up to date. It is an important deal because for the first time it includes Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles

The “judicious sale of defensive weapons systems has been an essential element of United States support for a secure, stable and democratic Taiwan, as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” said Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the top Republican on the House Foreign Relations committee.

Congress now has 30 days to accept or reject the request.

“This will help maintain stability in the Taiwan Strait and improve ties”' with China, said Lisa Chi, a spokeswoman for Taiwan's Defence Ministry, the day after the US Defence Department made its proposal public.

“With strong defence capabilities, Taiwan will be more secure and confident in cross-strait dialogue” with the mainland, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry added.

Beijing reacted cancelling or delaying planned military contacts with the United States, indefinitely postponing meetings on stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, this according to Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Major Stewart Upton.

Mainland China considers Taiwan a “rebel” province and has never excluded the use of force to achieve reunification.

Washington is Taiwan’s main arms supplier. Official figures indicate that the island received US$ 18.3 billion in US weapons under the Foreign Military Sales program from 1950 to 2006.

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