China renews opposition to US arms sales to Taiwan

AP News
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Posted: Dec 10, 2009 4:39 AM

China reasserted its opposition to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan on Thursday, signaling possible tensions in ties just three weeks after a state visit by President Barack Obama.

Beijing is "firmly opposed to arms sales to Taiwan by the United States," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular news conference.

Jiang's comments came amid U.S. media reports that Washington will grant at least part of a Taiwanese weapons request that includes F-16 fighter jets, Patriot missiles and diesel submarines.

In Taiwan, Deputy Defense Minister Andrew Yang would not confirm that any announcement from Washington was forthcoming.

"I have no idea," Yang said. "We're still sticking to our original proposal."

Communist-ruled China split with Taiwan amid civil war in 1949 and continues to regard the self-governing democracy as part of its territory. Beijing refers to Taiwan as the most sensitive issue in its relations with Washington, and strongly protests any moves to confer legitimacy on the island's government or boost its defenses.

China responded to the last U.S. arms offer by rejecting Hong Kong port calls by the USS Kitty Hawk and other ships in November 2007.

Weapon sales were approved in the first term of former President George W. Bush, but have encountered a series of delays.

The U.S. is obligated by law to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons. Such sales are driven by threats from China to use force to bring the island under its control, backed up by an estimated 1,300 Chinese ballistic missiles positioned along the Taiwan Strait.