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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

US defends decision to sell arms to Taiwan despite China reaction

RIA Novosti


WASHINGTON, January 31 (RIA Novosti) - The United States insisted Saturday that its decision to sell arms to Taiwan is right despite severe criticism from China.

The Barack Obama administration announced a decision to sell Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters and minesweepers to the island on Friday, fueling strains in relations with the world's third largest economy.

The planned arms sales would contribute to "maintaining security and stability across the Taiwan Strait," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Laura Tischler told journalists.

On Saturday, China threatened to impose sanctions against U.S. firms that will sell arms to Taiwan. Beijing also announced the suspension of military contacts with the United States over its plan to sell $6.4 billion worth weapons to de facto independent Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory. China demanded the sale be canceled.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Huang Xueping said Saturday the U.S. decision "seriously endangers China's national security and harms China's core interests," adding it will also "seriously disturb" bilateral relations.

The United States seeks cooperation with China on a host of issues, including Iran and North Korea's nuclear ambitions, efforts to fight the global financial crisis and climate change.

The two countries' bonds are already strained by a standoff over Internet censorship, trade and currency disputes, human rights and Tibet.

Beijing briefly cut off military exchanges with Washington in 2008 after the then Bush administration announced plans for arms sales to Taiwan.

Beijing has not ruled out use of force against the island, which split from the mainland in 1949. Taiwan's administration, however, welcomed Washington's decision, regional media reported.

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