$6.5-billion package includes Apache copters, Patriot missiles

Sale will interfere in the development of ties between mainland China and Taiwan

Taipei welcomes America’s decision

BEIJING: China on Saturday blasted a U.S. decision to sell Taiwan up to $6.5 billion in advanced weaponry, saying it would damage relations between Beijing and Washington.

The arms sale interferes with China’s internal affairs and harms its national security, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao in a statement on the Ministry’s website.

“The Chinese government and the Chinese people strongly oppose and object to the U.S. government’s actions, which harm Chinese interests and Sino-U.S. relations,” said Mr. Liu. Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister He Yafei summoned U.S. diplomatic representatives to make a strong protest, added the statement.

Taiwan’s government welcomed the U.S. decision. “President Ma Ying-jeou would like to express gratitude to the U.S. for the arms package,” said Taiwanese presidential office spokesman Wang Yu-chi. “A strong defence and peace in the Taiwan Strait are necessary for Taiwan’s prosperity,” he said.

Final hurdle

The U.S. announced the package, which includes Apache helicopters and Patriot III missiles, in a notification to Congress on Friday. The U.S. State Department said the deal would proceed if no legislator voices any objection within 30 days.

The U.S. is required by domestic law to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons against a possible invasion by China.

It remains Taiwan’s most important ally and largest arms supplier, even after Washington switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.

Mr. Liu said the sale would interfere in the development of peaceful relations between mainland China and Taiwan. The U.S. should stop selling arms and halt military ties with Taiwan and maintain its one-China policy and its promise to oppose Taiwanese independence, he said.

“We once again urge the U.S. to clearly understand the harm of selling weapons to Taiwan,’ he added.

Taiwan’s government said it wants to maintain a strong defence against any threat from China while seeking to improve relations.

Since taking office in May, Mr. Ma has turned the corner on his predecessor’s hard-line China policy and pushed for better ties with the mainland. — AP