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China Demands US Cancel Arms Sale      09/25 06:26

   BEIJING (AP) -- China on Tuesday demanded the U.S. cancel a $330 million 
sale of military equipment to Taiwan, warning of "severe damage" to bilateral 
relations and mutual cooperation if Washington fails to comply.

   Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters at a regular briefing 
that the sale violated international law and the "basic norms governing 
international relations."

   It was unclear what aspect of international law Geng was referring to. 

   "We urge the U.S. side to ... immediately cancel this arms sale plan, and 
stop military contact with Taiwan so as to avoid severe damage to China-U.S. 
ties, peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and bilateral cooperation in 
major fields," Geng said.

   China's defense ministry issued a similar statement, saying the sale had 
"interfered in China's internal affairs and harmed China's sovereignty and 
security interests."

   Washington has no official relations with Taiwan's democratically elected 
government but is obliged by U.S. law to see that it has the means to defend 
itself.

   The Trump administration said Monday that it had approved the sale of spare 
parts and related support for Taiwan's U.S.-made F-16 fighters and other 
military aircraft.

   The U.S. said the sale will improve Taiwan's ability to defend itself 
without altering the basic military balance in Asia, where Washington and 
Beijing are increasingly competing for dominance. China as a principle opposes 
all U.S. military sales to Taiwan, which split with the mainland in 1949 but 
which Beijing continues to claim as part of its territory and threatens to 
invade to bring under its control.

   The arms sale coincides with a U.S. decision to issue a visa ban and assets 
freeze on China's Equipment Development Department and its director, Li 
Shangfu, over the purchase from Russia of Su-35 combat aircraft in 2017 and 
S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment this year.

   China's purchase of the weapons from Rosoboronexport, Russia's main arms 
exporter, violated a 2017 law intended to punish the government of Russian 
President Vladimir Putin for interfering in U.S. elections and other activities.

   In response, China summoned the American ambassador and defense attache to 
deliver a protest and recalled its navy commander from a U.S. trip. China's 
Defense Ministry said the U.S. had no right to interfere in Chinese military 
cooperation with Russia and demanded the sanctions be revoked.

   The Kremlin dismissed the sanctions as an "unfair" move to undercut Russia 
as a major arms exporter.

   In a further sign of retaliation, China turned down a request for an October 
port call in Hong Kong by the U.S. Navy's amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, 
according to the U.S. Consulate in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. China 
last denied such a visit in 2016 amid a spike in tensions between the sides 
over the disputed South China Sea.

   Geng, the foreign ministry spokesman, declined to give details, saying only 
that such requests were handled "case-by-case in accordance with the doctrine 
of sovereignty and specific situation." 


(KA)

 
 
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