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China hits out at US over arms sales to Taiwan

Source: PTI
Last updated on: January 30, 2010 22:07 IST
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China has 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 on Saturday.

The Obama administration notified the US Congress on Friday of its first planed arms sales to Taiwan, a potential $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 on Saturday 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.

He urged the US to "fully recognise the gravity of the issue, revoke the erroneous decision on arms sales to Taiwan and stop selling weapons to Taiwan."

"The US plan will definitely further undermine China-US relations and bring about serious negative impact on exchanges and cooperation in major areas between the two countries," he was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

"Otherwise, the United States must shoulder the responsibility for the grave aftermath," the Chinese leader noted.

China took a similar step in 2008 after the former Bush administration announced a multi-billion-dollar arms sale to Taiwan - the most sensitive issue in US-China relations.

Last week US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton angered Beijing with a call to China to investigate cyber attacks on search giant Google, after the company said email accounts of human rights activists had been hacked.

China claims the self-governing Taiwan as its own, while the US is Taiwan's most important ally and largest arms supplier. The US government is bound by law to ensure the island is able to respond to Chinese threats.

China considers Taiwan, where nationalists fled in 1949 after losing the mainland's civil war, to be a territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. It had warned Washington repeatedly against the arms sales to the country.
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