China halts army exchanges with US in protest of Taiwan arms

China will suspend mutual military exchanges with U.S. over its arms sales to Taiwan, state news agency Xinhua said.

China halts army exchanges with US in protest of Taiwan arms

China moved swiftly on Saturday to suspend military exchanges with the United States after Washington's announcement of arms sales to Taiwan.

"Considering the severe harm and disgusting effect of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the Chinese side has decided to suspend planned mutual military visits," Xinhua quoted the Defence Ministry as saying.

China expressed "strong indignation" to U.S. decision to sell a package of arms worth about 6.4 billion U.S. dollars to Taiwan and warned damage to bilateral ties, according to official website Xinhua.

The Defence Ministry, in a strongly-worded statement condemned the proposed U.S. sale of weapons to self-ruled and democratic Taiwan, which China considers an illegitimate breakaway province, Reuters said.

"Considering the severe harm and odious effect of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the Chinese side has decided to suspend planned mutual military visits," Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying.

The Obama administration told the U.S. Congress on Friday of the proposed sales to Taiwan, a potential $6.4 billion package including Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot "Advanced Capability-3" anti-missile missiles, and two refurbished Osprey-class mine-hunting ships.

Summoning US defence attache

Moreover, China summoned the U.S. defence attache in Beijing.

Qian Lihua, director of China's Defence Ministry Foreign Affairs Office, lodged a "solemn protest" about the sales, Xinhua said.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei also told the U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, that the arms deal could jeopardise bonds with Washington, which has looked to China for help in surmounting the financial crisis, dealing with Iran and North Korea, and fighting climate change.

"The United States' announcement of the planned weapons sales to Taiwan will have a seriously negative impact on many important areas of exchanges and cooperation between the two countries," said He in the remarks, published on the Chinese Foreign Ministry's website

The U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have joined trade imbalances, currency disputes, human rights, the Internet, and Tibet among rifts dividing the world's biggest and third-biggest economies.

Washington and Beijing have also recently traded angry words about Internet policy after the search engine giant Google Inc earlier this month threatened to shut its Chinese google.cn portal and pull out of China, citing censorship problems and hacking attacks.

In coming months Obama may meet the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader China calls a dangerous separatist, adding to Beijing's ire with Washington.

He said the arms sales were "crude interference in China's domestic affairs and seriously harm China's national security", words notably tougher than Beijing's recent statements on the issue.

"This will lead to repercussions that neither side wishes to see," said He. He urged the U.S. to halt the planned sales.
 

Agencies

Last Mod: 30 Ocak 2010, 11:58
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