Tensions flare up between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping one week before the G20 summit in Hamburg. The US is pushing China to isolate North Korea. China instead is trying to isolate Taiwan. The US has been selling weapons to Taiwan since 1979. The last deal was signed by Barack Obama in 2015.
Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The United States has decided to boost defence co-operation with Taiwan. This has prompted an angry response from China, which has slammed the latest US-Taiwan arms deal announced yesterday.
China’s ambassador to Washington, Cui Tiankai, told reporters that China firmly opposed the deal. “We have expressed firm opposition to the US and we will reserve our right to take further action,” the South China Morning Post quoted him as saying.
This follows the Trump administration’s approval of arms sales to Taiwan worth a total of US$ 1.42 billion, a week before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s planned meeting with the US president on the side-lines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
“Today’s notifications are consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act and our support for Taiwan’s ability to maintain a sufficient self-defence capability,” a US State Department official said in an email.
The US Congress had been notified of the sale. In fact, the announcement came after the US Senate Armed Services Committee approved a bill that would allow regular stops by US naval vessels to Taiwan’s ports as part of an annual defence policy measure.
China responded to the bill with anger. “We are strongly concerned about and firmly opposed to the bill approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee,” Lu Kang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Thursday.
“The Taiwan question bears on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and belongs to China’s domestic affairs,” Lu added. “We urge the American side to abide by its commitment to the Chinese side with regard to the Taiwan issue and stop military contacts with Taiwan, so as not to cause damage to the relations between the two militaries and the two countries”.
The previous US arms sales to Taiwan was approved by Barack Obama in 2015. The US sold about US$ 1.8 billion worth of equipment, including frigates, missiles and amphibious assault vehicles.
Every US president has approved arms sales to Taiwan since the Taiwan Relations Act became law, starting with Jimmy Carter in his last year in office.
The Taiwan Act, which guarantees US support for the self-governing island’s defence capacity, was signed in 1979 by Jimmy Carter. The law requires the US to intervene militarily if Taiwan is threatened.
The arms deal comes at a time that Beijing is trying to isolate further Taiwan. At present, only 20 countries have diplomatic relations with the island. Panama is the latest to switch side after striking closer trading relations with China.
Meanwhile, North Korea continues to be a major issue. The US is pushing China, North Korea’s only international partner, to isolate it.
China however has rejected US interventionism, especially with respect to the deployment the THAAD -ballistic missile defence system, whose range covers Chinese territory.