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

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 res