Caixin
Sep 26, 2018 07:12 PM
WORLD

U.S. Approves Military Sale to Taiwan, Angering China

Workers perform maintenance on an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft inside the Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, in June 2017. Photo: George Frey/Bloomberg
Workers perform maintenance on an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft inside the Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, in June 2017. Photo: George Frey/Bloomberg

The U.S. approved the sale of military equipment to Taiwan on Monday, drawing Beijing’s ire as tensions escalate between the world’s two largest economies.

Taiwan welcomed the package, estimated by the Pentagon to be worth $330 million, which was proposed by its government last year and includes spare parts for F-16, C-130 and indigenous defense fighter aircraft. It represents the smallest stand-alone offering to the island since then-U.S. President George W. Bush approved a $125 million sale of anti-ship missiles in 2007, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service, the think tank of the U.S. Congress.

“This case-by-case approach in military sales could be more efficient than previous practices of big packages,” Chen Chung-chi, spokesman for Taiwan’s defense department, said by phone on Tuesday. “We hope military purchases in the future can be discussed case by case in order to enhance efficiency.”

The sale may further hurt U.S.-China relations, which have deteriorated as U.S. President Donald Trump’s use of tariffs stokes fears of a long-term competition for global power between the nations. The Chinese government has already called off a planned round of bilateral trade talks with the U.S., according to people familiar with the matter, and the countries imposed a new round of tariffs on each other on Monday.

‘Strongly Opposed’

China’s military “is strongly dissatisfied and strongly opposed to this,” Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said in a statement, adding that it has launched “stern representations” with the U.S.

China considers Taiwan part of its territory, and has opposed its independence since the Communist Party drove the Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party, off the mainland in 1949.

“We are resolutely opposed to the U.S. sale of weapons to Taiwan,” Ren said. Beijing demanded that the U.S. cancel the sales as well as its military contacts with Taiwan “in order to avoid the next step in damaging China-U.S. military relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”

Trump’s relationship with Taiwan has been a hot issue for China since he accepted a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen after his election and questioned why the U.S. recognizes Beijing instead of Taipei, a policy that underpins China-U.S. relations.

‘Punished by History’

Since then, the U.S. has approved $1.3 billion in arms sales to Taiwan, and Trump has signed legislation to encourage senior U.S. officials to visit the island, a move that would raise its diplomatic status. The U.S. has also agreed to provide technology for the island’s submarine-building program.

In a March address to the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that efforts to widen divisions with Taiwan would be “punished by history.” The government has ordered all airlines to stop referring to Taiwan and the former European colonies of Hong Kong and Macau as countries, a move the White House described as “Orwellian nonsense.”

Bloomberg – Caixin

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