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US Defends Arms Deal with Taiwan

VOA News 30 January 2010

China announced suspension of military exchanges, security talks with US, also threatened sanctions on US firms that sell arms to Taiwan.

The United States on Saturday defended its plan to sell military equipment to Taiwan, following China's threats to retaliate.

Laura Tischler, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, told reporters in Washington that such arms sales contribute to maintaining security and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

China announced Saturday it is suspending military exchanges and security talks with the United States, and also threatened sanctions on U.S. firms that sell Taiwan arms. The step was reaction to a U.S. plan announced Friday to sell Taiwan $6.4 billion in military equipment.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei summoned U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman in Beijing Saturday to lodge a protest. He urged Washington to cancel the deal, which he described as a threat to China's national security.

He also said the arms deal undermines China's effort at peaceful reunification with Taiwan.

In Taiwan, President Ma Ying-jeou said the arms deal will boost the island's defenses and give it a sense of security as it builds closer economic ties with Mainland China.

Relations between Beijing and Taipei have improved for the first time in decades since the two sides split in 1949. But nationalists in Taiwan have accused President Ma of building close ties with China at the expense of the island's sovereignty.

The U.S. Department of Defense said Friday it notified Congress of a plan to sell 60 Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot missiles, radar sets and communications equipment to Taiwan.

The package does not include F-16 fighter jets that the self-ruled island had wanted.

The United States has a treaty commitment to help the island maintain its defenses, and wants Taiwan and China to settle their differences peacefully.

China considers self-ruled Taiwan its sovereign territory, and has threatened to use military force if Taiwan attempts to claim formal independence.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.



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