China on Saturday announced it would suspend military exchanges with the United States, following Washington’s announcement that it would sell a $ 6.4 billion arms package to Taiwan.
Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister He Yafei said the sale would have a “serious negative impact on exchange and cooperation in major areas between the two countries, causing results that both sides do not want to see.”
The Foreign Ministry here said the Chinese government will also impose sanctions on U.S. companies that sell arms to Taiwan, and review all other areas of co-operation between the two countries.
The Obama Administration had on Friday notified the U.S. Congress of its first arms sales to Taiwan, which includes a $ 6.4 billion package of 60 Black Hawk helicopters, 114 Patriot anti-missile missiles and two mine-hunting ships.
“Considering the severe harm and odious effect of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the Chinese side has decided to suspend planned mutual military visits,” the Chinese Defense Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
The issue adds to a growing list of recent tension between Beijing and Washington, including a series of trade disputes, and more recently, over the question of censorship of the Internet in China.
Selling arms to Taiwan has been a long-standing policy of previous U.S. governments, and has also been a continuing source of conflict between the U.S. and China.
Taiwan and China have been administered separately since 1949, when the Nationalists fled to the island following a defeat by the Communists in the civil war. Beijing seeks unification with the island, and ties have warmed since 2008, following the election of Ma Ying-jeou in Taiwan, who is known for his China-friendly policies.
The U.S. says it has pledged military support to Taiwan to give it greater strength in negotiations with Beijing, but has promised the Chinese government that it would gradually reduce arms sales as the two sides move towards a settlement.
Taiwan’s defence ministry welcomed Friday’s announcement. A defence spokesperson said the sale would give Taiwan “greater confidence in pushing for an amicable outcome in our relations with China.”