US decision to sell arms to Taiwan ‘violated consensus’ reached by Xi, Trump in Florida

US$1.4 billion deal was ‘wrong’, Beijing tells Washington ahead of Xi Jinping’s planned meeting with Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 June, 2017, 6:39am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 11:24pm

The decision by the United States to sell arms to Taiwan was “wrong” and violated a consensus reached when Chinese President Xi Jinping met US President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April, Beijing told Washington.

The announcement of the US$1.4 billion deal comes a week ahead of Xi’s planned meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

China’s ambassador to Washington, Cui Tiankai, told reporters that China firmly opposed the deal.

“We have expressed firm opposition to the US and we will reserve our right to take further action,” Cui told reporters at an event in Washington to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China.

A statement issued later by the Chinese embassy in Washington DC criticised the move as a breach of the consensus reached between the two leaders ar their first ever meeting.

“The wrong move of the US side runs counter to the consensus reached by the two presidents in Mar-a-Lago and the positive development momentum of the China-US relationship,” its said.

The arms sales package was announced by a US State Department spokeswoman on Thursday.

It comprises seven items, including technical support for early warning radar, anti-radiation missiles, torpedoes and components for SM-2 missiles, Associated Press reported.

The US Congress had been notified of the sale, State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, told a daily press briefing.

A US State Department official added in an email: “Today’s notifications are consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act and our support for Taiwan’s ability to maintain a sufficient self-defence capability.

“There is no change to our longstanding ‘one-China’ policy based on the Three Joint Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act.”

The announcement came a day after the US Senate Armed Services Committee approved a bill that would allow regular stops by US naval vessels at Taiwan’s ports as part of an annual defence policy measure.

China responded to the bill with anger. “We are strongly concerned about and firmly opposed to the bill approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee,” Lu Kang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Thursday.

“The Taiwan question bears on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and belongs to China’s domestic affairs,” Lu said. “We urge the US to honour its commitment on the Taiwan question, immediately stop military contact and arms sales to Taiwan and avoid causing damage to the bilateral relationship and bilateral cooperation in a broader range of areas.”

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China’s Defence Ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian also condemned the move.

“We are always firmly opposed to any form of official contact and military interaction between Taiwan and the US.

“We urge the American side to abide by its commitment to the Chinese side with regard to the Taiwan issue and stop military contacts with Taiwan, so as not to cause damage to the relations between the two militaries and the two countries as well as to the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Wu said in a press briefing.

Beijing considers Taiwan to be a breakaway Chinese province and tries to deter all countries from having formal ties with the island. US defence ties with Taiwan are a particularly sensitive issue.

Trump’s meeting with Xi at the G20 will be their second since the US president took office in January. The two met for a summit at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in April, which set the course for a series of high-level dialogues.

The Taiwan Relations Act, which guarantees US support for the self-governing island’s defence capacity, was signed in 1979, shortly after the US switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

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“We are always aware that there are some negative things in our relationship”, Ambassador Cui said in Washington. “Our job is to make sure the positive development will be overwhelming, and we will continue to try the best to keep the relations on the right track.”

The last round of US arms sales to Taiwan was approved by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama in 2015. The US sold about US$1.8 billion worth of equipment to Taiwan in that round, including frigates, missiles and amphibious assault vehicles, according to the Federal Register, a US government publication.

Every US president has approved arms sales to Taiwan since the Taiwan Act became law, starting with Jimmy Carter in his last year in office.