China will sanction United States companies that sell arms to Taiwan, after Washington approved possible sales of $US2.2 billion ($2.8 billion) in tanks, missiles and related equipment, its foreign ministry says.
- The United States is the main arms supplier to self-ruled Taiwan
- China’s top diplomat Wang Yi said no foreign force could stop the reunification of China
- The US Department of State said there was no change to their “one China” policy
In a four-sentence statement, the ministry said that US arms sales to Taiwan harmed China’s sovereignty and national security, but did not provide any details about the sanctions.
China’s top diplomat Wang Yi warned the United States that it should “not play with fire” on the question of Taiwan and expressed anger about the planned sale.
During a visit to Hungary, Mr Wang said that no foreign force could stop the reunification of China and no foreign force should try to intervene.
“We urge the US to fully recognise the gravity of the Taiwan question … [and] not to play with fire on the question of Taiwan,” Mr Wang said.
The US is the main arms supplier to self-ruled Taiwan, which China deems a wayward province.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is in New York on a two-night “transit” stop. (Supplied: Office of the President of Taiwan)
Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.
China also said the US should not allow an ongoing visit by Taiwan’s president to New York.
President Tsai Ing-wen is in New York on a two-night “transit” stop en route to an official visit to four Caribbean nations.
“We urge the US to abide by the ‘one China’ principle and … not allow Tsai Ing-wen’s stopover, cease official exchanges with Taiwan and refrain from providing any platform for separatist Taiwan independence forces,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily briefing.
The United States recognises Beijing as the government of China, but provides military and other support to Taiwan.
China objects to such support as an interference in what it considers its internal affairs.
Before departing on Thursday, Ms Tsai said she wants to share the values of democracy and perseverance with Taiwan’s friends.
“Our democracy has not come easily and now is facing the threat and technological penetration of foreign forces,” she said, in a veiled reference to China.
The US State Department has approved the possible sale to Taiwan of M1A2T Abrams tanks, Stinger missiles and related equipment at an estimated value of $2.8 billion, the Pentagon said on Monday (local time), despite Chinese criticism of the deal.
The tanks represent a significant upgrade to Taiwan’s ageing fleet.
US Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus earlier this week defended the transaction and said there was “no change” to the US’s “one China” policy.
“Our interest in Taiwan, especially as it relates to these military sales, is to promote peace and stability across the straits, across the region,” she said.
“There’s no change, of course, in our longstanding ‘one China’ policy.
“The law [the Taiwan Relations Act] specifically … requires us to help Taiwan maintain their defence, self-sufficient defence capabilities. But our ‘one China’ policy remains the same.”