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China complains about US arms sales to Taiwan

China’s defense minister complained to his US counterpart on Friday about the latest US arms package for Taiwan and warned of a possible conflict on the self-governing island that China claims as its own territory.

Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe told US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at a meeting in Singapore that the sale “seriously undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests”, according to the military channel of the public television channel CCTV.

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China “firmly opposes and condemns it,” and the Chinese government and military “will resolutely destroy any Taiwan independence plots and resolutely safeguard the reunification of the motherland,” Wei said.

China and Taiwan separated in a civil war in 1949 and China is threatening to use force to annex the island republic.

Despite the lack of formal diplomatic relations, Washington is Taiwan’s main supporter and source of weapons, and US law requires it to treat threats to the island as matters of “grave concern”.

In the latest arms package, the United States on Wednesday announced the sale of parts for Taiwanese navy ships at an estimated cost of $120 million.

“The proposed sale will help sustain the recipient’s fleet of surface vessels, enhancing its ability to meet current and future threats,” the State Department said in its announcement of the sale.

Some in Taiwan have been pushing for more big-ticket items, while the US is focusing on selling smaller systems they believe would better help fend off a Chinese attack, leading to a rare domain disagreement between the two parties.

In other comments, Wei warned against “using Taiwan to control China” and listed conditions the United States must meet for relations to improve, including “not to interfere in China’s internal affairs or harm China’s interests.”

In another reading of the meeting, Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Wu Qian quoted Wei as saying that China would respond to any move toward formal Taiwan independence by “crushing it even to no end.” any price, including war”.

Wu also accused “outside powers” of stirring up trouble in the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety, and said Beijing would “resolutely oppose” any effort to harm China’s interests in the sea. issue of Ukraine.

China refused to criticize the Russian invasion and accused the West and NATO of provoking Moscow.

The combative tone, particularly about Taiwan, is typical of Chinese officials when they meet their American counterparts, reflecting the general deterioration in bilateral relations. The two leaders met on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security conference held annually in the Southeast Asian city-state.

In contrast, Austin stressed the need to “manage competition responsibly and keep lines of communication open,” according to the Department of Defense.

He said the United States remained committed to its long-standing policy toward Taiwan and “reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability in the (Taiwan) Strait, opposition to unilateral changes status quo and called on (China) to refrain from further destabilizing actions toward Taiwan,” the DOD said.

Taiwan and the South China Sea have been the main points of contention between the two sides, although they have also tangled over China’s efforts to expand its military influence in the Indian Ocean and beyond.

The United States and its allies have complained about reckless actions by Chinese pilots in international airspace toward surveillance planes and said they put their flight crews at risk. China has also challenged foreign warships at sea, despite bilateral agreements to manage such encounters.

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