US to sell arms to Taiwan; China warns move will hurt ties

US F-16 fighter jets
Washington/Beijing, Sep 22: The US has announced a $5.85 billion arms sales to Taiwan, including upgrading its 145 F-16 fighter jets, a decision which immediately infuriated China which warned the move will hurt Sino-US defence ties.

"It is our strong view that these sales will make a significant contribution to Taiwan's air defense capabilities because it is upgrading the backbone capability of Taiwan's air force," US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell told reporters.

Campbell said this package includes the retrofit for 145 of Taiwan's F-16 A/B fighter jets, including radars, weapons, structural upgrades, totaling about USD 5.3 billion.

It will also include a five-year extension of F-16 pilot training at Luke Air Force Base in the United States, totaling about USD 500 million and aircraft spare parts for sustaining Taiwan''s F-16s, its existing fleet of F-5s, and C-130 cargo planes, the total amount about USD 52 million.

"This retrofit programme will provide a substantial increase in the survivability, the reliability, and the overall combat capabilities of Taiwan's 145 F-16 A and B fighter aircraft," he said.

"This will help ensure that Taiwan maintains the capability to protect its airspace... This sale is a clear demonstration of the commitment of this Administration to sustain and improve Taiwan's defense capabilities," he said.

China, which views Taiwan as its "integral part", warned that the move will hurt its defence ties with America.

"Rather than working with China to consolidate and expand the positive growth of bilateral military ties, the US again announced its plan to sell arms to Taiwan, which will create severe obstacles for normal military-to-military exchanges," Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng warned. 

Geng's comments came soon after the US government notified Congress of its decision to sell arms to Taiwan. With this sale, in less than two years, the Obama Administration has sold over USD 12 billion in arms to Taiwan.

"In recent years, China-US military relations have never broken the vicious circle of ''development-stagnation- redevelopment-restagnation," Xinhua quoted Geng as saying.

Starting from 2011, China-US military relations have warmed with multi-field exchanges and cooperation, Geng said.

As a sign of the warming of ties, top US defence leaders, including former defence secretary Robert Gates and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, visited China this year while Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese army Chen Bingde travelled to the United States in May.

"Reality has proved that the US should be held fully accountable for damaging China-US military relations,"he said.

Chinese ambassador to the US Zhang Yesui also lodged strong protest here on behalf of his government, while a similar protest was lodged with US envoy to China Gary Locke.

"The wrongdoing by the US side will inevitably undermine bilateral relations as well as exchanges and cooperation in military and security areas," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun said.

"China strongly urges the US to be fully aware of the high sensitivity and serious harm of the issue, seriously treat the solemn stance of China, honour its commitment and immediately cancel the wrong decision," he told Locke.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu in a statement said "there is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an integral part of Chinese territory." He urged the U to stop selling weapons to Taiwan and halt military relations with Taiwan, so as to avoid further damage to the sound development of both Sino-US relations and cross-Strait relations.


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