Billion dollar arms sale from U.S. to Taiwan draws threats from China

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration announced a $1.83 billion arms sale to Taiwan on Wednesday, drawing an immediate rebuke and threats of retaliation from Taipei's rival Beijing.

See Full Article

The arms package is the first offered by the U.S. to the self-governing island in four years. Even before its announcement, Beijing, which regards Taiwan as part of its territory, demanded it be scrapped to avoid harming relations across the Taiwan Strait and between China and the U.S.

That was followed by a formal diplomatic protest late Wednesday, although at a lower level than in previous such instances.

"China resolutely opposes the sale of weapons to Taiwan by the U.S.," Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang said in a meeting with Washington's second-highest ranking diplomat in Beijing.

"In order to safeguard the nation's interests, the Chinese side has decided to take necessary measures, including the imposition of sanctions against companies participating in the arms sale to Taiwan," Zheng said, according to a statement posted on the ministry's website.

Such sanctions have been threatened in the past, although there's no evidence they've had any meaningful effect. American and European Union companies are banned from selling military technology to China and Chinese companies have extensive links with major overseas firms that often have weapon-making divisions.

The U.S. maintained there's no need for it to hurt the relationship, which has also been strained by China's island-building in the South China Sea and alleged cybertheft.

The administration notified Congress that the proposed arms package includes two decommissioned U.S. Navy frigates, anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles and Stinger surface-to-air missiles. There's also support for Taiwan's capabilities in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and a weapons system to defend against anti-ship missiles.

Congress has 30 days to review the sale, but it's unlikely to raise objections. There's been mounting bipartisan concern that Taiwan is inadequately armed to defend itself against an increasingly powerful mainland China.

U.S. lawmakers welcomed the announcement. There were calls from both parties for more frequent arms sales to Taiwan.

New York Rep. Eliot Engel, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the sale would contribute to peace and stability across the strait. "I wish we would see them on a regular basis," he said.

The committee's Republican chairman, California Rep. Ed Royce, said the administration had "needlessly dragged out" the approval process, and that other Taiwanese requests "have still not seen the light of day."

Sen. John McCain, Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. should avoid extended periods during which "fear of upsetting the U.S.-China relationship may harm Taiwan's defence capabilities."

The administration has announced more than $12 billion in arms sales to Taiwan since 2010, but none since $5.9 billion in sales in September 2011 that included upgrades for Taiwan's F-16 fighter jets. That drew a high-level diplomatic protest from Beijing, which suspended some military exchanges with the United States. It did not seriously impair ties.

In the meantime, President Barack Obama has sought greater co-operation with China on issues such as climate change, and the two sides have increased military exchanges to reduce the risk of conflict.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. was in contact Wednesday with both Taiwan and China about the sale, which he said was consistent with U.S. support for Taiwan's ability to defend itself under the Taiwan Relations Act.

"There's no need for it to have any derogatory effect on our relationship with China," Kirby told reporters. "We still want to work to establish a better, more transparent, more effective relationship with China in the region and we're going to continue to work at that."

Also on Wednesday, Ma Xiaoguang, China's spokesman for the Cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office, reiterated China's opposition to arms sales to Taiwan from any country under any circumstances, and called for Taiwan to "treasure" improved relations with the mainland.

Relations across the Taiwan Strait have undergone a steady improvement over the past two decades, especially under the China-friendly administration of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Banff's Sunshine Village clearing out guests as crews tackle nearby wildfire

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY - A popular Rocky Mountain resort in Banff National Park is being cleared of guests so that crews can fight a wildfire raging in the nearby backcountry. Sunshine Village, a ski hill on the Alberta-B.C. Source
  • Egyptian who claimed refugee status loses legal fight over terrorist branding

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- An Egyptian man branded as a threat to Canada's national security has failed in what could prove to be his final attempt at lifting the terrorist designation that has hung over him for the past 15 years. Source
  • O.J. Simpson granted parole for Vegas armed robbery [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    LOVELOCK, Nev. — O.J. Simpson once thrilled crowds as he ran for touchdowns and hurdled airport seats in car rental ads to achieve Hollywood celebrity before he was acquitted of murder in the 1995 “trial of the century” in Los Angeles. Source
  • National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg gets $5M to expand Ebola containment lab

    Canada News CBC News
    The federal government is putting millions more into Canada's National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg to help detect high-risk infectious diseases such as Ebola and various types of avian influenza faster. The $5 million will be used to convert current Level 3 containment laboratory space to the "highest level of biosafety," the federal government said in a news release on Thursday. Source
  • Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington dead at 41

    World News CBC News
    Chester Bennington, lead singer of the California rock band Linkin Park, has died at the age of 41, according to the Los Angeles County coroner. Coroner spokesperson Brian Elias said the death is being investigated as an apparent suicide but no additional details were available. Source
  • Trudeau defends his choice for governor general amid revelations about her past

    Canada News CBC News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is defending his pick for governor general after it was revealed she struck and killed a pedestrian while driving and was once the subject of a criminal probe for assault. Trudeau said Thursday his team did a thorough vet of Julie Payette, a former astronaut who will assume the largely ceremonial post in the fall, and there is nothing in her past that disqualifies her for the job. Source
  • Hunters kill Cecil the lion's son in Zimbabwe

    World News CTV News
    JOHANNESBURG - Conservationists in Zimbabwe say the son of a lion named Cecil, whose 2015 killing prompted an international outcry, has also been fatally shot during a hunt. A group named Friends of Hwange Trust said Thursday on Facebook that 6-year-old Xanda, Cecil's son, was shot on a "legal trophy hunt" several days ago. Source
  • Salvador Dali to be exhumed in paternity lawsuit

    World News Toronto Sun
    FIGUERES, Spain — Salvador Dali’s eccentric artistic and personal biography is taking yet another bizarre turn with the exhumation of his embalmed remains in order to find genetic samples that could settle whether one of the founding figures of surrealism fathered a girl. Source
  • Evacuations after wildfire breaks out on outskirts of Penticton, B.C.

    Canada News CTV News
    PENTICTON, B.C. -- Multiple homes have been evacuated after a wildfire broke out on the outskirts of Penticton, B.C., this morning. Peter Weeber, chief administrative officer for the city, says the fire started around 9 a.m. Source
  • Two missing Burundi teens reportedly seen crossing into Canada

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — U.S. authorities say two of six Burundi teens who were reported missing after an international robotics competition in Washington have been seen crossing the border into Canada. Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Aquita Brown says the whereabouts of their team members is unknown, and that the search for all the teens remains ongoing, but she stresses that police have no indication of foul play in their disappearance. Source