March 23, 2017

China warns U.S. over arms sales to Taiwan

21 March 2017, 01:46 | Austin Hogan

Taiwan defense minister says China missiles pose threat

Taiwan warns US and China not to use Taipei 'as a chess piece' ahead of Trump-Xi meeting

"We call on the United States and China, when they improve relations, to not use Taiwan in their own interest or as a chess piece", said Catherine Chang, Taiwan's minister in charge of China affairs, the Mainland Affairs Council.

Trump and China's President Xi Jinping subsequently smoothed over the dispute in a phone call in which the U.S. leader reiterated Washington's adherence to the One China policy, which nominally acknowledges Beijing's claim without recognising it. After Taiwan completes a transfer of two decommissioned United States frigates, the government of President Tsai Ing-wen will request more modern aircraft to replace their aging fleet of F-16s.

The report added that since Taiwan's political transition last May, China has used "noneconomic means" to reduce the number of its tourists visiting the island, while trying to segment tourism policy between localities administered by pan-Blue and pan-Green governments.

MR PENG SHENG-CHU, chief of Taiwan's National Security Bureau. The United States is the democratically-ruled island's most powerful ally and its main arms supplier, even though the two sides do not have official diplomatic ties after Washington switched recognition to Beijing in 1979.

Taiwan is seeking a new arms package from the Trump administration, in response to China's increased military posturing around its waters.

The DF-16 (Dongfeng 16) is capable of precise strikes against Taiwan and has been deployed by the Rocket Force of the People's Liberation Army, defence minister Feng Shih-kuan said.

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Lieutenant General Chiang Chen-chung (姜振中), director of the ministry's Office for Operations and Planning, said the PAC-3 missile system can effectively take down the DF-16 when it is flying between 40km and 70km away, preventing it from hitting Taiwanese soil.

Media reports last week indicated that the U.S. may be prepared to sell Taiwan advanced rocket systems, anti-ship missiles and other equipment to help the island defend itself.

Assisting the defenses of Taiwan is recognized by the Chinese Foreign Ministry as an extremely delicate situation, and China hopes leaders in Washington "fully" understand the "serious harmfulness" imposed by selling weapons to Taiwan.

"We hope the U.S. side fully recognises the high sensitivity and serious harmfulness of its sales to Taiwan".

The Ministry of National Defense yesterday confirmed for the first time that China has Dong Feng-16 (DF-16) missiles aimed at Taiwan in a bid to increase military pressure on the nation.

Mr Trump changed tack last month, however, and agreed to honour the policy during a phone call with Mr Xi.

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