China says U.S. arms sale to Taiwan creates "severe obstacles" for bilateral military exchanges
2011/09/22

BEIJING, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- China said on Thursday that the latest U.S. arms sale to Taiwan has created "severe obstacles" for the two countries' military-to-military exchanges.

"Rather than working with China to consolidate and expand the positive growth of bilateral military ties, the United States again announced its plan to sell arms to Taiwan, which will create severe obstacles for normal military-to-military exchanges," Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said on Thursday.

Geng's comments came after the U.S. government on Wednesday notified Congress of its decision to sell arms worth 5.85 billion U.S.dollars to Taiwan, including upgrades for 145 of Taiwan's fighter jets.

The fresh arms sale announcement comes less than two years after the Pentagon's decision in January 2010 to sell a nearly 6.4-billion-U.S.-dollar arms package to Taiwan, an inalienable part of China.

After the last sale, China suspended several of its military exchange programs with the United States.

"In recent years, China-U.S. military relations have never broken the vicious circle of 'development-stagnation-redevelopment-restagnation," Geng said, attributing the problem to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, regardless of China's repeated opposition.

Starting from 2011, China-U.S. military relations have warmed considerably since 2011 through increased exchanges and improved cooperation, Geng said.

As a sign of warming ties, senior U.S. defense leaders, including former U.S. Defense 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 People's Liberation Army of China Chen Bingde traveled to the United States in May.

"Reality has proven that the United States should be held fully accountable for damaging China-U.S. military relations," Geng said.

Stressing the fact that the Taiwan issue concerns China's sovereignty, territorial integrity and core interests, Geng said the Chinese military's position on safeguarding state sovereignty and territorial integrity is resolute and clear.

He said the U.S.' decision to sell arms to Taiwan will inevitably undermine China-U.S. military relations.

"We strongly urge the U.S. to take immediate and effective measures to reduce any negative impact, respect China's core interests and honor its solemn commitment on the Taiwan issue through practical actions," Geng said.

He called on the United States to stop selling arms and cut its military links to Taiwan in order to avoid further damage to China-U.S. relations.

Geng said the arms sale "severely violates" the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques, particularly the principles specified in the August 17 Communique. He said the arms sale goes against the consensus agreed upon by the heads of both states to jointly build a China-U.S. partnership that features mutual respect, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation.

The United States agreed to gradually reduce its arms sales to Taiwan, according to the August 17 Communique signed in 1982.

Geng added that the arms sale package severely undermines the positive momentum of peaceful development in cross-Strait relations.

Guan Youfei, deputy chief of China's Defense Ministry's foreign affairs office, was instructed on Thursday morning to summon the acting U.S. military attache to China and lodge a strong protest over the new round of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

Vehement reactions came not only from the Chinese military, but also from diplomatic and public circles.

Late Wednesday, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun was instructed to summon U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke and lodge a protest to the U.S. side.

Chinese ambassador to the United States Zhang Yesui also lodged a protest on behalf of the Chinese government in Washington.

"Uncle Sam will eventually pay a bigger price for the current interest he has gained by eating his words," said a netizen using the screenname "wdgq1985" on sina.com, a popular Chinese Internet portal.

Analysts said the U.S. arms sale to Taiwan has been a recurring problem for China-U.S. relations, the only solution to which relies on the United States' ability to honor its earlier promise.

"By selling advanced weapons to the Chinese island, the United States has been repeatedly fooling and cheating the Chinese people," said Major General Luo Yuan, a researcher with the Chinese People's Liberation Army's Military Science Academy.

U.S. arms sales to Taiwan totalled about 240 million U.S. dollars in 1979, when China and the United States forged diplomatic ties. Washington has been accelerating its arms sales to the island in recent years, both in quality and quantity, with the biggest sale to Taiwan reaching 6.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2008.

"The trend runs contrary to the commitment stated in the August 17 Communique and reflects the hypocrisy of the U.S.'s foreign policy," Luo said, adding China should not confine its response to angry words and symbolic condemnation.

"The timing of the arms sale to Taiwan is well-planned, as it comes at a unique interval in the China-U.S. diplomatic agenda," said Shi Yinhong, a professor at Beijing's Renmin University.

Shi was referring to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit in August and an upcoming meeting between the presidents of both countries during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in November.

 

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