China has summoned a senior United States envoy in protest at Washington’s announcement that it would sell two warships to Taiwan as part of a $1.8bn arms deal.
A vice foreign minister made “solemn representations” with the US charge d’affaires regarding the sale, according to a statement on the foreign ministry’s website on Thursday.
The US state department said on Wednesday it intended to sell Taipei two Perry-class Frigates, Javelin anti-tank missiles, TOW 2B anti-tank missiles, AAV-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicles and a range of other military equipment.
The massive contract comes at a time of reconciliation between China and Taiwan – separated since 1949 – but also as Washington worries that Beijing is militarising part of the South China Sea.
“China staunchly opposes America’s sale of arms to Taiwan,” China’s foreign ministry said, adding the country would impose sanctions against any companies involved in the sale.
“China urges the US … to cancel plans to sell arms to Taiwan and stop US-Taiwan military contacts to avoid causing further damage to Sino-US relations and bilateral cooperation in important areas,” it said.
In a statement to Al Jazeera, a Pentagon spokesperson said that “US arms sales to Taiwan are guided by the Taiwan Relations Act and based on an assessment of Taiwan’s defence needs”.
“Our long-standing policy on arms sales to Taiwan has been consistent across six different US administrations,” the statement said.
“We believe our consistent policy has contributed to the security of Taiwan, and also supported the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
“We support further development of cross-Strait relations at a pace and scope acceptable to people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.”