China outraged at US warship sales to Taiwan

China has summoned a US diplomat based in Beijing, in order to protest against Washington’s sale of warships to Taiwan as part of a $1.8bn (£1.2bn) arms package.


Taipei will get an array of missiles, amphibious assault vehicles and two frigates in the latest deal, which comes as the US looks to shore up its Asian friends and allies, in the face of growing Chinese assertiveness.


“China staunchly opposes America’s sale of arms to Taiwan,” a statement from the country’s foreign affairs ministry said, as the US charge d’affaires, Kaye Lee, was called in for a dressing down.


It said Beijing would impose sanctions on any companies involved in the sale, and urged Washington to cancel the deal to “avoid causing further damage to Sino-US relations”.


Although it has been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, China considers Taiwan a renegade province awaiting reunification. It regularly lashes out at Washington and other powers for their dealings with Taipei, which it labels as interference in Chinese domestic affairs.


The US weapons sale – the first to Taiwan in four years – comes at an increasingly febrile time in east Asia, where China’s aggressive position on territorial disputes with its neighbours has raised anxiety levels in the US and among allies from Japan to the Philippines.


Beijing is building islands with military-grade airstrips in the South China Sea, part of what observers say is an attempt to assert control over almost the whole of the body of water. Several countries – along with Taiwan – also claim parts of the sea.


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