BEIJING – China criticized on Thursday a possible United States sale of arms to Taiwan valued at $1.8 billion and said that, if it occurs, would have “a great impact” on relations between Washington and Beijing and on “regional peace and stability.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said “China will give a legitimate response depending on how the situation evolves” after the US State Department announced its intention to sell three batches of weapons to the island. These include SLAM-ER missiles and HIMARS units, a lightweight multiple missile launcher system.
For the sale to materialize, it must first be approved by the US Congress as well as by the Taiwanese legislature, Taiwanese state news agency CNA reported on Thursday.
“We ask the US to stop this sale because it sends the wrong signal to the Taiwanese independence forces and seriously violates the principle of one China and the joint statements signed between China and the US. China opposes it and will respond as the situation evolves,” Zhao said.
The US Agency for Defense Security Cooperation on Wednesday told the US Congress of its sale plan, which has the approval of the State Department, to “support Taiwan’s continued efforts to modernize its military and maintain its defensive capabilities,” as well as “helping to maintain political stability and military balance in the region.”
Joanne Ou, spokeswoman for the Taiwanese Foreign Affairs Ministry said on Thursday that her department had received a formal proposal on the sale of arms, which would be the eighth since US President Donald Trump came to power.
On the other hand, Zhao said on Thursday that Beijing will also respond to Washington for restricting the activity of six other Chinese media, considering them “propaganda.”
US Secretary State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday that six more Chinese media, including financial and technology news portal Yicai, would be treated as diplomatic missions of the Chinese Government and its journalists subject to the same restrictions as diplomats.
“China will take whatever measures it deems necessary in response,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Thursday at a press conference, urging the US to “immediately correct its mistakes” and “cease its political repression.”
They will have to inform the State Department of the properties they have in the US and provide a list with the names of their employees, as well as inform who they fire and hire.
The restrictions are in addition to those Washington imposed in February and March on nine other Chinese media, which in turn led to the expulsion of US correspondents in China from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.
Beijing ordered the Chinese-based delegations of these three newspapers, as well as Time magazine and the US state media Voice of America, to declare in writing information on their personnel, finances, operations and real estate in the country.
The Chinese authorities also had to hand over this information to the Chinese delegations of the Associated Press and United Press International news agencies, the CBS television network and the National Public Radio station.