China told a visiting senior US military commander today that America must stop selling weapons to Taiwan and end military exchanges with the self-ruled island, an official news report said.
The comments by Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing to Admiral Thomas Fargo, commander of US forces in the Pacific, added to recent Chinese pressure on Washington to end military support for Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of its territory.
Li demanded that Washington “halt its arms sales to Taiwan and stop its relevant military exchanges aiming to upgrade (its) substantial relationship with Taiwan”, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Li told Fargo that the US must “clearly understand the seriousness and sensitiveness of the Taiwan situation”, the report said.
Chinese leaders made similar appeals to US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice when she visited Beijing two weeks ago.
US officials said Rice affirmed Washington’s “one-China policy,” which doesn’t favour Taiwan independence. But the officials said Rice also stressed that American law requires Washington to provide Taiwan with the arms it needs to defend itself.
During Rice’s visit, Chinese officials appealed for an end to US sales of unspecified “advanced weapons”, but the Xinhua report on Li’s comments yesterday appeared to refer to all arms sales.
China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since splitting amid civil war in 1949.
The United States broke off formal diplomatic ties with the island in 1979 but maintains extensive informal contacts and is Taiwan’s main arms supplier and military protector.
Chinese officials say they worry that US support for Taiwan is encouraging factions that want to make its de facto independence permanent – a step that Beijing says would lead to war.
China is in the midst of annual summer war games on its coast across from Taiwan. The mainland says the exercises are routine, but state media say they are intended to show Beijing’s determination to enforce its claim to the island by force if necessary.
Taiwan also held military exercises this week in which fighter pilots practised landing on a closed highway.