Taiwan defends deal to buy US arms after Chinese warnings

Taiwan has defended a proposal to purchase 2.2 billion dollars in arms from the US following a Chinese announcement that it would sanction any American companies involved in the deal.

US weapons help strengthen Taiwan’s self-defence in the face of a growing military threat from China, the defence ministry said.

“The national army will continue to strengthen its key defence forces, ensure national security, protect its homeland and ensure that the fruits of freedom and democracy won’t be attacked,” the ministry said in a statement.

China announced late on Friday that it would impose sanctions on any US enterprises involved in the deal, saying it “undermines China’s sovereignty and national security”.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-we, seated second from left, with participants at the US Taiwan Business Summit (Bebeto Matthews/AP)
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-we, seated second from left, with participants at the US Taiwan Business Summit (Bebeto Matthews/AP)

Taiwan split from China during a civil war in 1949 but the mainland still considers the self-governing island as part of its territory.

The US, which recognised Beijing as the government of China in 1979, does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but US law requires that it provide Taiwan with sufficient defence equipment and services for self-defence.

The Trump administration announced the proposed 2.2 billion dollar sale, which would include 108 Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger surface-to-air missiles, earlier in the week.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, speaking in New York on Friday, said that her government has strengthened Taiwan’s national defence to protect its democracy.

China has objected to her US visit, which Taiwan calls a “two-evening transit stop” on the way to Haiti and three other Caribbean nations that recognise Taiwan.

“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,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in Beiijng.

Ms Tsai dismissed Chinese criticism of both her visit and the arms deal. “We don’t need our neighbour to make irresponsible remarks,” she told reporters in New York,.

She has rejected Chinese pressure to reunite Taiwan and China under the “one-country, two-systems” framework that governs Hong Kong. She said on Friday that the people of Taiwan stand with the young people of Hong Kong who are fighting for democratic freedoms in ongoing protests.

“Hong Kong’s experience under ‘one country, two systems’ has shown the world once and for all that authoritarianism and democracy cannot coexist,” she said.

- Press Association

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