Washington raises ire with missiles sale

This undated photo shows the Taipei 101 skyscraper commands the urban landscape in Taipei, Taiwan. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

China has lodged solemn representations over the latest United States arms sales to China's Taiwan, China's Defense Ministry said on Friday afternoon, expressing "firm opposition and strong dissatisfaction".

Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, the spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, demanded that the US stop arms sales to Taiwan and military contacts with the island, stop meddling in the Taiwan question and stop escalating tensions across the Taiwan Straits.

The US had made political commitments to China on the Taiwan question in the three Sino-US joint communiques and "the Taiwan question is purely China's internal affair"

The US State Department has approved a $619 million sale of hundreds of missiles to equip new US-made F-16 fighter jets that the island is expecting to receive by the middle of this decade.

READ MORE: China firmly opposes new round of US arms sales to Taiwan

The proposed sale — which the US State Department's Defense Security Cooperation Agency informed Congress of on Wednesday — comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing over the Taiwan question and other issues, such as a slew of legislative measures put forth recently by the US House of Representatives aimed at restricting China across a wide range of areas.

Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said on Thursday, "We firmly oppose the sale of arms by the US to Taiwan."

Ma urged the US to abide by the one-China principle and the provisions of the three Sino-US joint communiques, to stop the arms sale and any military ties with the island.

"The US should stop playing with fire on the Taiwan question, and deal with it cautiously," he said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Thursday: "Such sales undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests, and harm China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.

"The US calculus to use Taiwan to contain China (is) the root cause of the tensions in the Taiwan Straits."

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that one of the reasons that the world is so concerned about a crisis across the Taiwan Straits "is because this is not an internal matter".

Mao has called the remarks "absolutely irresponsible and absurd".

The US had made political commitments to China on the Taiwan question in the three Sino-US joint communiques and "the Taiwan question is purely China's internal affair", Mao said.

The main US contractors for the latest arms sales are Raytheon Missiles & Defense, in Tucson, Arizona, a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies Corp in Arlington, Virginia; and Lockheed Martin Corp, based in the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Maryland, which is also building the F-16 jets. Both companies have been sanctioned by China for their role in arms sales to China's Taiwan.

The first of the 66 aircraft is on schedule to be delivered in the mid-2020s, reported The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the order.

'Further souring ties'

Globalnews.ca, a Canadian news outlet with 838,000 followers on Twitter, said Wednesday that the sales "are likely to further sour already tense ties between Washington and Beijing, which has repeatedly demanded such deals stop".

READ MORE: Chinese mainland firmly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan

Entrepreneur Mario Nawfal, CEO of International Blockchain Consulting, said to his 379,000 followers on Twitter: "There is no formal requirement for the US to 'protect' Taiwan. So the reason is probably strategic, and Taiwan's microchip manufacturing is likely a big part of this strategy."

Danny Haiphong, a major Twitter user in the US, told his 57,000 followers: "The US is sending more weapons to Taiwan after claims that China has crossed the Air Defense Identification Zone. A reminder that the ADIZ is a US creation. It is not recognized by international law and significant portions of the lines drawn cross (the Chinese mainland)."

Jiang Chenglong and Zhang Yi contributed to this story.